Marla Korecky and Nardeen Awadalla have had the unique opportunity to experience two of Adler University’s campuses. They are students in the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program in Vancouver, and are spending the spring semester in Chicago interning at Adler Community Health Services, the University’s own community-based practice for underserved populations in the city.
Korecky is originally from Ottawa, Canada, while Awadalla was born in Egypt and has lived in 14 cities on three separate continents. Both have brought unique backgrounds, skills, and passions to ACHS, giving both students a chance to put the school’s global values to good use. They shared with us how they are benefiting from this dual-campus, across-countries experience.
What has your experience at ACHS been like?
Korecky: I am currently working with two sites, Thresholds and Near North Health Service Corporation. Thresholds is a community-based program that provides mental health services to individuals with complex mental illness. The second site is a primary care center which provides comprehensive services to individuals from underserved communities.
Awadalla: The staff and supervisors have been so supportive and have fostered an enriching environment to help us further develop our clinical skills in a new cultural context. Chicago is a diverse city and I get the privilege of working at multiple sites across the city. I am at Thresholds and Near North Health Services like Marla, and at a smaller primary care clinic in a school setting.
I have met incredible psychologists with diverse experiences and interests. The interns from Chicago are also invaluable resources and have gone the extra mile to make us feel like a part of the team. I feel incredibly lucky to be here. Working at ACHS has been a dream!
What have been the benefits of being able to do your internship abroad?
Korecky: In addition to being able to work with two different sites, we have also joined a larger group of interns who are working in different settings than us. We meet on campus twice a week as a group, and there is additional learning through being able to hear about their experiences within different environments and with diverse clinical populations.
Another benefit relates to my professional interest in the field of health psychology, specifically to gain experience working within integrated primary health care teams. It is not common for psychologists to be in primary care settings in Canada and so I feel fortunate to gain some experience here with ACHS.
Awadalla: I believe that the psychological community is influenced by its cultural and sociopolitical context. I’m getting deeper insight into my identity as a psychologist by getting the chance to train in two different psychological communities. I am able to notice what stays consistent for me regardless of context. In a way, while my skills are growing and becoming more flexible and adaptable through the exposure to new contexts, my professional identity is taking a more concrete shape with a more solid foundation.
What attracted you to Adler University?
Korecky: I was attracted to Adler University due to the school’s values, as well as their commitment to training socially responsible practitioners. I have appreciated the school’s dedication to training clinicians to consider their impact beyond the scope of the therapy room, including how the field of psychology can more broadly address the impact of social, political, and economic inequalities.
Awadalla: I am an idealist—the eternal optimist—yet I want to be an effective clinician in our not-so-ideal world. Alfred Adler’s philosophy was practical and compassionate, a combination that I believe facilitates real transformative change.
When I visited the campus and met the dean and instructors in Vancouver, I knew that every individual was there because they believed in the mission. I had faith in the authenticity and integrity of the instructors and felt confident that they could support and guide my personal transformation from idealistic student to socially responsible practitioner.
What does social justice mean to you?
Korecky: I understand social justice to be an ongoing process that involves the promotion of equal access, rights, and opportunities, particularly for individuals who have less power. This occurs parallel to the acceptance, appreciation, and celebration of diversity within our social and cultural environments.
Awadalla: Social justice is a lens that allows me to see the world from a perspective of humility, compassion, and equity. I believe that with the lens of social justice real transformative change can occur. Social justice is understanding that we thrive only when we see ourselves in the “other,” the ones most marginalized by society. Social justice is the realization that when we see ourselves in the “other,” we cannot accept or be complicit to continued marginalization.