• Leonard Webb

Ethnic GEM in the Making: Ajaycia Jackson

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

School: Clark Atlanta University

Major: Psychology

State: Massachusetts

By Samantha Williams, Sr. Contributing Writer

Have you ever considered how the lack of African American representation among mental health providers can impact the health of other African Americans? If you have, you’re not alone. Ajaycia Jackson, a Boston native, born and raised in the town of Mattapan, decided to enter the STEM field to ensure her future African Americans patients and clients will have an opportunity to receive care from someone who looks like them.

Ajaycia is currently matriculating towards her bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Clark Atlanta University. As a Psychology major, Ajaycia always knew she was destined for a STEM career because of her interest in studying human behavior. Currently, as a STEM Academic Leader with Raising Expectations, an afterschool program located in Atlanta, GA, Ajaycia is a role model for her students, which she refers to as her Sensational Scholars. She provides her Sensational Scholars with interactive lessons, which include positive and mindful alternatives of viewing themselves, their peers, and their experiences. Ajaycia’s goal is to make her students better people, friends, and productive members of society. Through the programs and resources available with Raising Expectations, Ajaycia can ensure her Sensational Scholars have an abundance of potential, intelligence, and opportunities.

According to the Center for Discovery, very few African Americans are represented among mental health professionals, and Ajaycia plans to help change these statistics. There is also a stigma throughout the African American community regarding mental health and mental health issues, and Ajaycia plans on helping to eliminate this stigma. Her passion is in making African Americans feel comfortable discussing mental health issues and seeking treatment when needed. Fueling Ajaycia’s passion for entering the mental health industry is the lack of African American mental health providers. “Being a Black woman, I feel it is imperative to immerse myself into the field because very few mental health professionals look like me and service people who look like me. Therefore, I have decided to dedicate my career to changing this stigma while changing the lives of people just like myself.”

As Ajaycia begins her life’s work of being a mental health provider, she is definitely on the right track to success, and she is working hard to be recognized as an accomplished STEM professional. She has worked as a Research Assistant at Boston University’s Social Learning Lab, and she also served as a Summer Intern at The PEAR Institute in Belmont, which is an extension of McClean Hospital and partners with Harvard Medical School. During this internship, Ajaycia had the opportunity to work alongside world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Gil Noam. Recently, Ajaycia was accepted into the HBCU Up Implementation Undergraduate Research Experience, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program, which focuses on diversification in the STEM field. In this role, Ajaycia served as a research assistant to Dr. Diane Plummer, who also happens to be one of her mentors, along with Drs. Medha Talpade and Michelle Mitchell, who are all Associate Professors at Clark Atlanta University.

The importance and benefits of joining professional organizations have not been overlooked by Ajaycia. As such, she is an Executive Board Member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Clark Atlanta University chapter. She is also a member of the Psi Chi, International Honor Society of Psychology and a member of the Pi Gamma Mu, International Honor Society of Social Sciences. Ajaycia was also the recipient of the Clark Atlanta University Undergraduate Studies Program Scholarship.

Ajaycia has set important goals for herself. She will graduate with her Bachelor’s degree in May 2019, and she is excited to continue her academic journey, pursuing her Master’s degree in the near future. Her ultimate career goals include assisting African American youth and their families, by providing them with access to equitable and affordable mental health care.

In addition to focusing on achieving her goals, Ajaycia has recently become an avid reader, and she also enjoys exercising, reading, meditating, watching movies, listening to music, and hanging out with family and friends.

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