Honors profile: Vyshika Willis, MA ’19
Vyshika Willis, Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy ’19, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Now Is The Time: Minority Fellowship Program- Youth (NITT-MFP-Y). This fellowship is awarded to a master’s degree candidate who demonstrates experience and/or commitment to working with marginalized youth and young adults between the ages of 16-25.
Before coming to the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Willis was already actively engaged in serving her community’s vulnerable and marginalized populations. Employed as a substitute teacher in her hometown of Las Vegas, she chose to accept placements solely in at-risk high schools. Simultaneously, she served as an instructor for the nonprofit After School All-Stars Las Vegas (ASASLV) in at-risk middle schools, and, while earning her undergraduate degree, she acquired over 200 internship hours at a behavioral health center where she co-facilitated groups with adults on substance use, mindfulness, and basic skills.
This fellowship will serve to aid Willis in continuing the work she has already begun and includes mentorship provided by previous MFP recipients who are currently working in the field.
“The MFP network is invaluable! Due to the fellowship being connected with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), I will gain access to additional learning tools to assist me in my practice as a graduate student and in the future as a licensed clinician,” says Willis of the mentorship component.
The benefits of the fellowship are supported by the Graduate School’s commitment to educating students to be advocates of social justice, equity, and access. Being in an educational environment where marginalized voices are brought to the forefront is what guided Willis in choosing Lewis & Clark.
“For me, social justice work and advocacy have always been part of my upbringing as a child,” Willis explains. “My family and elders have been part of social justice movements throughout the generations.”
And Willis’ journey will continue after her MA. Because of her time at Lewis & Clark thus far, she plans to apply for doctoral programs that focus on communication and human development and family relations. Her ultimate goal is to work to raise awareness of mental health resources and decrease the stigma within the Black community and other communities of color that has remained.
“Competence comes from ever learning and expanding your worldview,” she concludes. Actively seeking knowledge on that which you do not understand is so vital to being a clinician.”