School psychology students earn national recognition for showcasing profession

Published April 25, 2023
Students pose for a photo together
School Psychology students Triana Marie Marasigan, Melanie Sandoval, Betsy Duthoit and Marisela Ortiz recently earned national recognition for a series of events and activities they launched to celebrate National School Psychology Week.


A series of videos, lectures and other activities by Cal State Long Beach students highlighting the important work of school psychologists has won national recognition.

The National Association of School Psychologists recently recognized the foursome — second-year students Betsy Duthoit, Marisela Ortiz and Melanie Sandoval and first-year student Triana Marie Marasigan — with a certificate of excellence in leadership for their work during National School Psychology Week last November.

Running with the week’s theme of “Together We Shine,” the students showcased the profession through interviews with practitioners who described their career journey, videos of students reflecting on what they’re learning, a yoga/meditation session that promoted wellness, and by honoring their school psychology site supervisors.

Kristin Powers poses for a photo sitting in a chair
The students interviewed Dr. Kristin Powers, a professor and the director of the Community Clinic at Cal State Long Beach, about her career and her views of the school psychology profession.

Most ambitiously, they hosted a virtual lecture by school psychology expert Charles Barrett that drew some 90 students and faculty from not only Long Beach but four neighboring school psychology graduate programs.

“We diversified the way that people could participate,” said Sandoval, who is from Panorama City and would like to work in the South Bay after graduation, “because we wanted to have more people engaged.”

And those who engaged walked away with some truly valuable lessons.

For example, Barrett, who is known for incorporating social justice into his practice, talked about ways to assess English-language learners. Practitioners, he told them, must look at students as a whole including where they were born, the language their parents speak, how long they’ve been in the United States and how much U.S. education they have.

Without that information, students could be placed in programs and services they don’t need, said Duthoit, a Tulsa, Okla., native whose research interest is suicide prevention.

“They could get behind in school. They could get overqualified for special education,” she said. “It’s a big problem if you’re not approaching it from that culturally responsive lens.”

The week was such a success that the students are already thinking about what to do this year. One idea is to go into local high schools to promote school psychology as a career to increase the number and diversity of people entering the field.

“Most of us didn’t even find out about school psychology until a lot later (in their career-exploration journey),” Ortiz said. “So, the goal will be to spread awareness about the field early on so that’s an option for them.”

A social media post where a student speaks about resillience.
The foursome asked their fellow students to think about and share a time they overcame a challenge and showed resiliency. This is one response.
Students practice yoga on the CSULB campus
The students also organized a yoga session to promote wellness.

Kelli Lahman, a member of the National Association of Graduate Student Committee who reviewed the students’ application for the award, had high praise for their work.

"The CSULB members demonstrated genuine concern and value of one another by coming together several times to connect over their resiliency experiences, listen to invited presenters (and invite other programs), advocate for their supervisors' well-being, lead a wellness class and more,” she said in a statement.

“It is obvious to me that the leaders and members of the program were invested in supporting one another in the program, schools and community.”