Clinical Child-Family PsyD Students Awarded Sonya Kurzweil Grant for Doctoral Projects

Sonya Kurzweil with grant recipient

Sonya Kurzweil with grant recipient

The Sonya Kurzweil Grant Program awards two $5,000 grants to William James College clinical psychology doctoral students pursuing research related to the mental health needs of children, adolescents, parents, and other caregivers. The program aims to advance scholarly understanding and research of best practices for treating, diagnosing, and preventing mental health disorders, and reward commitment to the child-family clinical specialty. The grants may be used in anyway the awardees wish to advance their career goals. An October 6 ceremony recognized the 2020 and 2021 award recipients.

Now in its fifth cycle, the Sonya Kurzweil Grant Program is a first of its kind program at William James College. The grant is made possible through a donation from the Sonya Kurzweil Developmental Center (SKDC), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mental health services to women, children, adolescents, parents, and families.

At the October 6 ceremony recognizing the 2020 and 2021 grant award recipients the award’s namesake, Dr. Sonya Kurzweil, highlighted the topics the grant funding has supported to date.

“The topics reflect the wide range of psychological service needs within our communities for children and caregivers and also the wide range of mental health topics that may be pursued at William James College,” she said.

The 2021 recipients, Clinical PsyD students Caroline Ferreira and Emily Foard presented their work during the ceremony.

Ferreira, an international student from Brazil, presented her proposal, entitled “Early Adverse Experiences and Negative Mental Health Outcomes in Adolescents,” which will look to identify how external and internal assets play a role in mental health problems of adolescents.

Foard shared her work “The Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Pediatric Primary Headache Conditions” which looked at the differences between groups who have experienced and not experienced adverse childhood events in terms of the incidence of later diagnosed headache conditions.

Both students thanked Kurzweil for her support.

“This opportunity has given me a lot of confidence to see myself as a researcher and to pursue opportunities to share my work and to continue to help advocate for children and families,” Foard said.

2020 grant recipients Dana Borkum and Daniel Moore were also recognized. Borkum’s project investigated age, cognitive control/flexibility, and self-injurious behavior. Moore studied mental health providers’ knowledge of trans youths’ unique health needs.

President Nicholas Covino spoke at the luncheon where he described the grant as a gift “not only of financial benefit.”

“[Dr. Kurzweil] is going to give you her time, her attention. She’s going to critique the work so that it can be presented,” he said. “Being part of a college community where that [interaction] is valued by folks within the community is a remarkable gift to us.”

Dr. Sunny Dutra, chair of the SKGP Committee and Associate Director of William James College’s Center for Psychological Science (CPS) added "I am honored to lend my support to the SKGP program. It provides some of our best and brightest students with tremendous support for their research endeavors and toward improved understanding and treatment of the mental health needs of children and families."

Kurzweil received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and her clinical training at the Human Relations Service (HRS) in Wellesley, Boston Children’s Hospital, Mass General Hospital and Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She is a lecturer on psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School and Senior Lecturer at William James College. Her research articles have been published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Infant Behavior and Development, and the American Journal of Psychotherapy. She has co-authored a book of poetry for children with her daughter entitled Forever Poems for Now and Then (Ben Bella, 2004).

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