Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Grad student is first recipient of Dr. Joseph R. Morris Fellowship in CPEP

Tags: awards, doctoral, education and psychology

Seanna Leath has been named the first recipient of the Dr. Joseph R. Morris Fellowship in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology (CPEP).

Dr. Joseph R. Morris, left, with Morris Fellowship recipient Seanna Leath, and Robert Jagers, chair of the Combined Program in Education and Psychology.


Seanna Leath has been named the first recipient of the Dr. Joseph R. Morris Fellowship in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology (CPEP).

The fellowship was established by Dr. Morris (MA ’72, PhD ’75) in 2014 to express his gratitude for the academic experiences he had at U-M. The fellowship is awarded to doctoral students who “demonstrate through written application that they are researching topics relevant to African American success in schools.”

After receiving word she had been awarded the fellowship, Leath met with Dr. Morris. “He was very welcoming and interested in my experience as a graduate student, and the research I am conducting,” she said. “He talked about his time as a graduate student at Michigan, and what led him to study counseling and educational psychology. He also discussed how these two areas influenced his intense focus on education throughout his career.”

Leath said she will use the fellowship to further her research goals. “Broadly speaking, my research involves examining racial identity and racial discrimination experiences among adolescent African-Americans, and relating those experiences to their academic achievement and socio-emotional adjustment in school settings.” She is currently working on two projects: One involves the impact of school-based racial discrimination on students’ academic motivation and engagement; the other is an examination of how African-American students’ racial and gender identity inform their academic experiences in colleges where the population is predominantly white.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Leath did her undergraduate work in psychology and Africana studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Now a third-year doctoral student in CPEP, she said she found the Morris Fellowship a great fit for her scholarship. “I decided to apply because my research aligned with the goals of the fellowship,” she said. “The research funds will help me attend a conference and look into some research materials I am interested in using for my dissertation.” At her meeting with Dr. Morris, Leath also noted, “He talked about some experiences of racial discrimination he experienced in his time as a student, which was enlightening to hear, given my research interests.”

After earning his doctorate from U-M, Dr. Morris went on to lead programs in counselor education and counseling psychology at Western Michigan University. He played a pivotal role in the development and accreditation of the doctoral program in counseling psychology there, and established multiculturalism as a cornerstone of the department through scholarship, colloquiums, hiring of faculty, and the recruitment, retention, and graduation of African-American students. Over his 30-year career at Western Michigan, he also made a priority of outreach projects for at-risk racial minority students.

For more information about the Morris Fellowship, contact CPEP.

Seanna Cade Leath is Graduate Student Instructor

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