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Doctoral students selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Health Professions Scholarship Program

Stories | 01.18.23

Four Adler University doctoral students were commissioned as officers in the U.S. Air Force on Jan. 12. The students are recipients of the Health Professions Scholarship Program, one of the most comprehensive scholarships available in the health care field, from the U.S. Air Force.

The students — all currently in the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D) program — are Anita Kozak, Daniel Whitten, Dreanna Curry, and Genevive Gottardo. They took their oath of office into the U.S. Air Force and signed all the paperwork during a Jan. 12 ceremony held at the Community Hall. They will serve as a military officer in the Air Force Medical Service Corps.

“These recent selections are the results of their hard work and the grit required for the application process, particularly for the U.S. Air Force,” said Joseph Troiani, Ph.D., associate professor and founding director of Military Psychology programs at Adler. “Their efforts and resulting selection have helped place Adler University on the map for sending social justice-informed clinical providers to care for our military service members around the world.”

The program selection is very competitive, with about 5%-10% of applications submitted each federal fiscal year selected, according to Dr. Troiani, a retired commander in the U.S. Navy, who conducted the formal swearing in ceremony.

The Air Force HPSP scholarships are offered to health care professionals, which include clinical psychologists. These scholarships cover all tuition and required fees, including textbooks, small equipment items, and supplies needed for study. Recipients also receive a monthly allowance for living expenses. While on scholarship, students will spend 45 days on active duty in the Air Force and, after graduation, will serve one year of active duty for each year of scholarship, serving a minimum of three years.

Dr. Troiani said that the students, as commissioned officers, will serve their pre-doctoral psychology internship and their post-doctorate clinical psychology internship through the U.S. Air Force. Once the graduates pass their licensing exam, they will be given orders to serve the U.S. Air Force community as clinical psychologists.

Meet the recipients:

Photo of HSPS recipients from Adler

The students — all currently in the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D) program — are Anita Kozak, Daniel Whitten, Dreanna Curry, and Genevive Gottardo. They took their oath of office into the U.S. Air Force and signed all the paperwork during a Jan. 12 ceremony held at the Community Hall.

Dreanna Curry, third-year Psy.D. program student

Currently a licensed therapist in Indiana and Illinois, Curry is a mentor in the Diversity Leadership Program (DLP) at Adler, which she chose for its commitment to serving communities and unique resource for understanding policy and initiating advocacy to produce social action and change. The DLP, sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, provides opportunities for Psy.D.-level students of color to find community, develop a sense of belonging, and receive academic support, resources, and advisement. She earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Purdue University. Curry aspires to educate and provide more holistic care for airmen and their families. Her research interests include neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia and pediatric neuromuscular diseases, and bereavement practices in minority communities. Last but definitely not least, she is a mother to an amazing and energetic 8-year-old boy.

Genevive Gottardo, second-year Psy.D. program student

For Gottardo, the HPSP scholarship means an opportunity to serve those who have served the country. With an Psy.D. program emphasis on traumatic stress, her research interests include a focus on motivation, burnout, and performance. Gottardo earned her master’s degree in kinesiology from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Grand Valley State University. She aspires to use her knowledge of the body and brain to provide more holistic care for those in the military. She chose Adler for her doctoral studies because of its commitment to social justice and serving communities.

Anita Kozak, third-year Psy.D. program student

A first-generation college graduate, Kozak earned her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and decided to dedicate her studies and career to the military population. In 2022, she attended the Pathways to Military Internships: The Summer Institute, held at the Center for Deployment Psychology Uniformed Services at the University of Maryland, where she learned about opportunities in the Air Force. Her clinical areas of interest and research focus on the stigma within the military population, interventions for trauma in the military, and the impact of injury on veterans and their opportunities for seeking mental health services.

Daniel Whitten, third-year Psy.D. program student

For Whitten, the HPSP scholarship provides a unique opportunity to serve this nation and the Air Force community by helping airmen be their best and mission ready. With a Psy.D. program emphasis on military clinical psychology and substance abuse treatment, his research interests include shame, vulnerability, moral injury, and the psychological implications of space travel. Whitten earned his bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral sciences from Ashford University. Before joining Adler, he served as a middle school English teacher for students with behavioral challenges, as a community leader chairing local boards and councils, and as a health care worker in the emergency room and home health. He aspires to serve as a clinician and advocate for fellow airmen to reduce mental health stigmas in the military and to holistically empower the minds, bodies, and spirits of those serving the nation.

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