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Institute for Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Melissa Rivera
Project L/EARN Alumna - 1992
Melissa Rivera
The Impact of Culture on Psychiatric Research: Ataques de Nervios in Puerto Rico
Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D.
Department of Human Ecology

This is Melissa Rivera's third year teaching the research methods class for the Project L/EARN interns. Melissa understands the hard work Project L/EARN interns endure because she is not only an instructor, she herself was a Project L/EARN intern in 1992. Subsequently she was a recipient of a NIMH undergraduate minority supplement to work with Dr. Peter Guarnaccia on his research on Ataques de Nervios. Since then, Melissa has graduated and continued on to graduate school. She is a fourth year graduate student at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, where she received a 3 year Excellence Fellowship. Melissa will graduate with her PsyD in May of 1999. Her ultimate goal is to work in an inner city community with children and families of low socioeconomic status.

Since 1992, Melissa says Project L/EARN has "changed incredibly." Project L/EARN has become more advanced with respect to the demands on and the level of difficulty expected from the interns. "The program was still intense but the level of work has increased. Students are now required to function at a graduate level." When Melissa was an intern it was only the second year of the program's existence. The program has changed incredibly and continues to advance and improve each year. "As the instructor, I've been able to see the administrative component of making the internship work...Being 'on the other side,' I have personally experienced, as well as personally witnessed, the immense amount of work and dedication needed to make the internship all that it is meant to be." Of this years group, Melissa says, "I was impressed from the onset with the class and team orientation in the classroom. It was nice to see the progress from the beginning to the end."

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