Lena S. Andersen
Lena S. Andersen, a graduate student working toward a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, wanted to break new ground with her doctoral dissertation. That determination led her halfway around the globe, to Cape Town, South Africa, where she is currently researching the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating depression in HIV/AIDS patients.
“I saw my dissertation as a special opportunity few people get in their lifetime,” Andersen said. “I knew of the HIV epidemic and the need for psychological research in this area. I literally woke up one morning and thought ‘I am going to go to sub-Saharan Africa and do this research.’”
Arranging funding for the project and the logistics of conducting research in a foreign country proved to be daunting, but eventually the pieces fell into place, and Andersen’s plans for South Africa moved forward. She has found working there “incredibly different from working in New York. There isn’t the same level of efficiency.” Additionally, she said, “despite the great need for psychological treatment here, particularly in the HIV/AIDS population, few resources are available.”
Andersen, who earned an M.A. in clinical and school psychology with distinction from Hofstra in 2003, has held teaching, counseling and research positions at the University. “My favorite part of the program was my internship at Student Counseling Services,” she said. “I was doing what I loved with a remarkable group of co-workers by my side.” Her mentor in the program has been John Guthman, director of student counseling services. “He is a phenomenal clinician, teacher and administrator,” she noted. “He sets the standard for all of us.”
Andersen expects to earn the doctoral degree in 2009. After that, her plans include starting a nonprofit organization aimed at raising funds for psychiatric research and services for HIV/AIDS patients across the globe.