Regina Banks, MSW candidate ’16, awarded prestigious CSWE fellowship

Social Work; Students

Regina Banks, a second-year MSW student, has been awarded a Now Is the Time: Minority Fellowship Program-Youth (MFP-Y) master’s student fellowship by the Council on Social Work Education. The highly competitive fellowship, awarded to 40 recipients in the U.S., includes a $6,500 stipend and additional professional training.

The fellowship program was designed to increase the number of minority mental-health providers, with the purpose of reducing health disparities and improving behavioral healthcare outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations.

Banks, a former high school English teacher, is committed to a career working with adolescents. She is currently pursuing her practicum at La Salle Middle School, where she counsels 12 students with learning disabilities, offering them help that includes anger management and grief counseling.

Banks also supports teachers in classrooms and is helping to develop an in-school suspension program, an educational/therapeutic model to address behavioral issues.

La Salle draws students from one of St. Louis’s most challenged neighborhoods. “Kids there are dealing with gangs, with death,” Banks said. “I’m seeing all types of things you wouldn’t see in other schools.”

She understands first-hand the importance of minority practitioners in health care, especially at a school like La Salle, whose teaching staff is almost all white.

“A cultural match is important” to the middle-schoolers, she said. “They want to see someone who looks like them.”

After graduation, Banks plans to return to her hometown of Fresno, CA, and continue her work with adolescents. “There’s a huge, huge need,” she said.

Banks is grateful for the financial support from the MFP-Y fellowship, which is offered through a partnership with the Center for Mental Health Services in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Banks is also the recipient of the Brown School’s Thurgood Marshall Dean’s Scholarship.