Portions of this release were provided by the New York State Governor’s Office
GENESEO, N.Y., Apr. 27, 2023 – Luiza Perez Ortiz, who recently completed an internship with the Livingston County Department of Health, was one of just 11 recipients of the $4 Million Mental Health Scholarship Program as announced by the New York State Governor’s Office.
“I’m thrilled to have been selected for this scholarship,” added Perez Ortiz who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at the University at Buffalo. “This opportunity provides me with a pathway to make a positive impact within my community through hands-on experiences, professional development and education. The knowledge I gained while interning with Livingston County has helped to shape my career development and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity.”
The scholarship was created with the aim of expanding and diversifying New York’s mental health workforce. To date, the field lacks sufficient representation of ethnic and racial minorities, especially in roles requiring advanced degrees or education-based certificates. Perez Ortiz plans to work toward becoming a licensed Mental Health Counselor where she hopes to specialize in eating disorders and work within the immigrant and refugee communities.
“We are so fortunate to have been able to work alongside Luiza and provide her with an opportunity to grow in her field,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, Director of the Livingston County Department of Health. “Her passion and commitment to improving mental health are exemplary and we are excited to see where her future leads.”
In August of 2022, Governor Hochul announced SUNY and CUNY each received $2 million from the New York State Office of Mental Health to support students underrepresented in mental health degree programs. Students selected for the scholarship program will be provided with a monetary scholarship as they progress through the program; mentorships with mental health professionals; enrichment programs consisting of presentations by mental health professionals and experts in the field as well as internships in mental health facilities and/or with mental health providers.
The mental health field, like many medical professions, is experiencing significant shortages of clinicians, in particular clinicians who are multi-lingual, which continues to drive disparities in access, quality and treatment for those who are not proficient in the English language. In addition to helping students acquire skills and credentials to build rewarding careers, this initiative works to reduce mental health disparities found in the state's diverse communities by increasing the level of services delivered in a culturally relevant way.
"Through this partnership with SUNY and CUNY, we are taking a crucial step towards creating a public health care system that is truly reflective of the communities it serves," Governor Hochul said. "Congratulations to the latest recipients whose dedication to this field will contribute to a healthier, more equitable future for all New Yorkers."
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About Livingston County:
Founded in 1821, Livingston County, N.Y., is comprised of more than 61,000 residents in 17 towns located across 631 square miles of the Finger Lakes region.