(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – March 3, 2014) Two California Lutheran University students studying to become marriage and family therapists have been awarded $18,500 stipends because of their potential for filling the need for mental health practitioners in underserved communities.
Zenaida Cruz of Encino and Amelia Mora Mars of Simi Valley received the grants from the California Department of Mental Health to defray the cost of earning their master’s degrees. This is the first time CLU students have received the awards.
Eighty-four recipients were chosen from more than 500 applicants statewide. Cruz and Mars were two of the five recipients selected by the MFT Consortium of the Central Coast. Award councils look for well-prepared students with experience in county public mental health delivery systems, second-language skills, involvement in culturally diverse communities, commitment to public service, and familiarity with mental health services either as a client or the immediate family member of a client.
Recipients are required to work full-time on a paid or unpaid basis for a mental health agency for one year as a condition of receiving the stipends. Funded by the Mental Health Services Act enacted in 2005, the stipend program is designed to address the need for mental health practitioners in underserved communities.
Cruz and Mars are currently gaining experience by counseling clients at the Community Counseling Center of CLU in Thousand Oaks under the direction of faculty as part of their master’s degree program. CLU provides low-cost counseling and psychotherapy for families, couples, children and individuals at the Thousand Oaks clinic and a second Community Counseling Center in Oxnard.