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Stories | 02.20.23

World Day of Social Justice: International students share how social justice will impact their work

Feb. 20 is World Day of Social Justice, created by the General Assembly of the United Nations to recognize the need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.

This year’s theme is “Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice,” which provides an opportunity to foster dialogue on actions needed to strengthen the social contract that is meant to protect the rights of workers. It calls for more significant investments in decent jobs, particularly in the green, digital, and care economy, and in young people worldwide.

Adler University has a long tradition of attracting international students from all corners of the world, adding to the rich diversity in all its three campuses.

In commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, five international students at Adler University are sharing what social justice means to them and how they hope to advance social justice in their work as mental health providers.

Photo of Hye Red Ahn

Hey See Ahn

Hye Ree Ahn
Seoul, South Korea
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Social justice is often varied in wording by different organizations, yet I understood that people wish for equality in rights, opportunity, and treatment. Therefore, if an individual talks about social justice, it can portray where and how the person indicates inequality in the social system. For me, social justice means intentionally giving a voice and a spotlight to groups of individuals to whom most of society does not pay attention. I am particularly interested in gender equality, especially for individuals who identify as women or femme.

I grew up in a culture where women’s sacrifices were taken for granted in many domains of society. Within five years, Korean society developed quick and voluminous discussions about women’s rights in safety, economic achievement, job security, mental health, and reproductive rights.

As a mental health provider, I pay careful attention to clients’ narratives (regardless of their gender identity) and their need to access the systems. Helping someone access a particular system might mean extra work for me. However, if the person is in a place where their mental health issue can benefit from my effort, I will do my best to help raise their voice. I want to keep this in mind for my future career.

Photo of Charmaine Barclay

Charmaine Barclay

Charmaine Barclay
Kingston, Jamaica
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Social justice means cultivating an environment where we all have access to the goods, services, and experiences we need to enjoy a good quality of life, irrespective of how we identify. It will be an environment where we no longer have to “try” to be inclusive, but one where inclusion becomes a way of life. As a member of a minority population with multiple intersecting identities, I am very aware that there are psychological and mental health challenges that can arise when our identity is used to determine the type of access we have to the things we need. This experience is a motivating factor in mu pursuing my studies at Adler.

The experience at Adler University is equipping me with the practical training I need to return to my home country to provide quality service to children with behavioral challenges, and women and children from low socio-economic background who are survivors of various forms of abuse. An important aspect of this will be providing psychological assessments to determine the level of support and type of intervention needed for each individual to live a good quality of life.

Photo of Benjamin Gertin

Benjamin Gertin

Benjamin Gertin
Toronto, Canada
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

For me, social justice entails a continuous and never-ending process of self-education, advocacy, and activism. As someone who strives for cultural competency, it’s my responsibility to educate myself on various social issues and the populations involved. If I work with someone directly (or indirectly) impacted by social inequality/injustice, I have to be aware of the contributing factors and how this may impact their clinical presentation and the type of treatment provided.

Advocating for social justice, as well as activism, can come in many shapes and sizes. Personally, I advocate for social justice among my peers, when working with clients who are marginalized or discriminated against, and when collaborating with other professionals at practicum. For instance, at the end of February, I’ll be presenting at a diversity conference, discussing addiction in the LGBTQIA+ population and the unique treatment barriers they face; this for me, is an example of how I am attempting to incorporate social justice into my role as a current/future clinician. I will be educating myself for future reference when working with this population, as well as advocating for an underserved population and spreading awareness of an important social issue in the here and now.

Photo of Marina Hakimian

Marina Hakimian

Marina Hakimian
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Social justice for me is being able to serve my patients without discrimination. I see a lot of people with various nationalities. I am aware of my unconscious biases. I try my best to be the same with every single person. My goal is the same for all my patients, to see them in less distress and more yearning to lead happy lives no matter who they are and where they are from.

Photo of George Nipah

George Nipah

George Robert Nipah
Accra, Ghana
Master of Science in Sport and Human Performance

To me social Justice means standing up for the marginalized in society and giving a voice to those whose voices will otherwise go unheard due to the prevailing power structures that be regardless of race, creed, socio economic status and sexual orientation.

As a future mental health provider, I hope to incorporate social justice into my practice by advocating for equitable treatment of my clients and fostering an atmosphere of cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness to make them feel valued. Incorporating the social justice approach will help me bridge the inequities which exist in the society and the world of sport, where injustices have a big impact on a persons’ life and they are played out in the full glare of the general public.

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