Psychology at the UN

Meet APA’s 2013-2014 student interns at the United Nations

APA welcomes five graduate students from the New York City area to its internship program at the United Nations.

Five graduate student interns will join APA’s nongovernmental organization representatives at the United Nations for the 2013-2014 term: Jane Berkman, Charlotte Cesana, Cora Hui, Alla Prokhovnik and Isabel Unanue. They will focus on supporting the work of the APA U.N. team by working side by side with the representatives on projects initiated by U.N. NGO committees that focus on child rights, families, elimination of racism and other forms of xenophobia, sustainability, HIV/AIDS prevention, protection of vulnerable girls and LGBT rights, using psychological science and practice. Intern recruitment for the 2014-2015 year will begin in March 2014.

Jane Berkman, Fordham University

Jane Berkman, Fordham UniversityJane Berkman is currently a third year doctoral student in counseling psychology at Fordham University. Berkman spent most of her childhood in southern Arizona and has lived and worked in a variety of settings across the United States which have shaped her commitment to working for social justice and improving mental health disparities. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and women’s studies at Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in counseling from Wake Forest University. Berkman was honored to work with Native American women and children at a domestic violence shelter in northern Arizona, with at-risk teens in rural North Carolina and continues to provide crisis intervention to the diverse population of New York City on the crisis hotline. This year, she will further her clinical training working at the Adolescent Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. Recently, Berkman's research has investigated risk factors for LGBTQ individuals and the impact of microaggressions. She is thrilled to be joining the APA U.N. team this year and hopes that the experience will further expand her worldview and impact as an advocate and mental health professional.

Charlotte Cesana, Teacher’s College, Columbia University

Charlotte Cesana, Teacher’s College, Columbia UniversityCharlotte Cesana is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in psychology in education degree in the clinical psychology program at Columbia University. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in intensive psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, Cesana developed an interest in women's rights, which led her to become a domestic violence advocate at a nonprofit. As an intern, she provided psychosocial education and crisis intervention to women from various ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. She was also a member of a research lab which looked at young women's self-objectification and sense of personal agency. Over the years, Cesana has had the chance to develop a global perspective on human behavior and mental health. She was born in France, where she travels regularly and hopes to work in the near future. She also studied abroad in Japan as an undergraduate, and took classes on Japanese language and culture. In 2011, she volunteered in Cusco, Peru at an NGO called Aldea Yanapay, where she helped the psychologist evaluate children for familial and developmental challenges. Cesana speaks Spanish, French and English fluently. She is greatly looking forward to her role as an intern at the APA-U.N. organization. She believes in the importance of developing cross-cultural understandings through psychology, eradicating stigma from mental illness and fighting against gender based violence.

Cora Hui, John Jay College, City University of New York

Cora Hui, John Jay College, City University of New YorkCora Hui is a second year student in the psychology and law doctoral program at John Jay College, Graduate Center (CUNY). She is originally from Hong Kong and has lived and studied in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto) and the United Kingdom (Cambridge) prior moving to New York. She obtained her Hons BA in criminology and psychology from the University of Toronto and MPhil in criminology from the University of Cambridge. Hui’s broad area of interest is in cross-cultural psychology. She began to develop an interest in this field while she was conducting research on the obstacles Chinese immigrants in Canada faced when applying for jobs. The exposure informed her of the dire need to conduct more research in cross-cultural psychology, as most of the participants believed that the Western counseling strategies did not help them. She is currently interested in differential conceptions of safety, fear and violence across cultures, different means of violence against women and miscarriage of justice across different systems. She knew she wanted to contribute to the APA U.N. team in any way she could after learning about the theme for the 6th Annual Psychology Day at the U.N.: "Psychology and Violence in the Global Context: Antecedents, Consequences and Prevention." The valuable opportunity of working as an intern with the APA U.N. team would enable her to learn about many topics in the cross-cultural psychology field in a global professional setting.

Alla Prokhovnik, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Alla Prokhovnik, Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityAlla Prokhovnik is currently a fourth year student in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s clinical psychology PhD program, where her main research focus has been on perception of emotions, as well as perception of intimate partner violence. She received her BA in psychology from CUNY Hunter College where she was also a part of the United Nations Student Association, an organization geared towards educating students on the workings of the United Nations. Prokhovnik’s undergraduate honors thesis focused on individuals’ experience of religious discrimination and their self-presentation on social media websites such as Facebook. Her main interests include topics of gender related violence, human trafficking and prejudice against religious minority groups. As an immigrant from Eastern Europe, Prokhovnik is aware of the stigma of mental illness in many nations and the importance of providing culturally sensitive interventions. She is dedicated to promoting the principles of APA and cultural competence through research and outreach in the global community. She is excited to be joining the APA team at the United Nations where she hopes to expand her knowledge of global issues related to international policies and mental health.

Isabel Unanue, Teacher’s College, Columbia University

Isabel Unanue, Teacher’s College, Columbia UniversityIsabel Unanue is currently completing a master's degree in clinical psychology at Columbia University. There, she is serving as a research assistant for the Spirituality and Mind-Body Institute and Global Mental Health Laboratory. Unanue gained an undergraduate degree in psychology from Yale University in 2009 and a master's in public health from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona in 2011. Last year, she solidified her interests in the intersection between psychology and public health when she served as Psychosocial Fellow for Gardens for Health, an NGO based in Rwanda dedicated to diminishing child malnutrition. She developed a psychoeducation program for mothers of malnourished children and provided psychosocial support for staff members. Unanue's research interests primarily lie in spiritual pathways towards wellness, developing mental health programs for underserved populations and the impact of emotional intelligence programs.