August 10, 2020
(HOUSTON, TX) - The Council on Social Work Education recently announced its 2020 Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) recipients, and among those named was current doctoral student Gabbie Aquino-Adriatico.
Designed to "increase the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals available to underserved populations in public and private nonprofit sectors," the MFP aims to "reduce health disparities and improve health-care outcomes of racially and ethnically diverse populations."
Recipients selected must pursue a career in providing "leadership in practice, research, teaching, and policy promulgation in government or private organizations serving underrepresented and underserved persons with or at risk for mental health and/or substance abuse disorders."
We asked Gabbie to share some of her favorite moments since beginning her doctoral education at the GCSW and why the MFP Fellowship will help further her research.
Name: Gabrielle "Gabbie" Aquino-Adriatico
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Program at the GCSW: Doctoral
Congratulations on being named a recipient of the 2020 Minority Fellowship by CSWE. What is the significance of this award to you and your educational career?
I am humbled and grateful to be named a recipient of CSWE's Minority Fellowship. It means increased resources and tools for supporting communities that have historically been excluded in research endeavors. This fellowship will prepare me to become a more culturally grounded researcher so I can continue to conduct research that is meaningful and useful for communities of color. Additionally, I think it is essential for research teams to include researchers from ethnic minority backgrounds like me, and this fellowship provides support for that.
You are interested in conducting "domestic and international research on human trafficking, specifically in Southeast Asia." Why do you believe it is vital to conduct research that focuses on this part of the world?
I believe that understanding our position and place in the world provides a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of issues that impact communities, specifically communities affected by poverty and violence. Researching in Southeast Asia is vital to understanding the factors that contribute to trafficking. On the flip side, examining Southeast Asia highlights the strengths of culturally grounded interventions led by survivors of trafficking. I hope to amplify survivors' voices through research in a way that recognizes their dignity and worth.
You're also interested in "culturally grounded sustainable interventions for the aftercare of survivors of both labor and sex trafficking." Why is it essential for interventions addressing issues within communities (especially minority communities) to be "culturally grounded"?
Ideally, interventions for communities (especially minority communities) should recognize and highlight the resilience, value, and strength of their cultures. I believe that interventions for populations should be relevant and led by communities of color. My goal is to use my privilege as a doctoral student to help with that endeavor.
As a new doctoral student, can you share a highlight since beginning your studies at the GCSW?
One of the highlights so far has been the opportunity to build connections with my professors, cohort, colleagues, and the staff at GCSW. These relationships have pushed me to grow personally and professionally. I am not the same person who started the program last Fall 2019.
What is it that initially led you to continue your work and education in social work?
One of my life's goals is to create inclusive and safe spaces for all communities. After working with survivors of trafficking for several years, I realized that I have so much more to learn to become a productive community-based researcher. Obtaining a doctoral education will equip me to serve communities impacted by trafficking better. I want to become a better ally, advocate, and resource for communities affected by trafficking.
How has the GCSW prepared you for the current research and work you are doing?
The GCSW has provided me with fantastic thought partners and supervisors who show me "the ropes" or the way of research. Each professor I have had a class with has pushed me to become a more critical thinker and, thus, a better advocate and researcher. I am thankful for the different research opportunities I have had the privilege of working with this year. These research opportunities range from learning about HIV/AIDS, mental health, community-based research with organizations, and quantitative and qualitative strategies.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my heart with the GCSW. My doctoral education is not only for myself but also for my family, the women in Thailand and around the globe, the women in Houston and the United States, the kids affected by poverty, and future social workers who wish to serve these communities.