Student Advocates for Change: A Three-Part Interview Series (Jardin Dogan)

Part I1: Jardin Dogan

Activism is a core way in which SCP members and students show their support for the communities and causes that mean the most to them. Many of these causes are steeped in SCP’s core values of social justice and multiculturalism and are aimed at improving the lives of those with marginalized identities through systemic change. To ensure their ability to thrive, these societal changes are essential in eradicating the multiplicative forms of oppression BIPOC communities endure. The 2020-21 academic year in the U.S. continues to be filled with an array of traumatizing experiences, especially for BIPOC communities, including:

Amid this turmoil, many CP students have stepped up to stand up for BIPOC communities by utilizing their training, passion, and dedication to uplift these groups. Their efforts embody SCP’s core values and provide examples of how we can continue to make a difference.  In the second of this three-part series, I will highlight an interview with Jardin Dogan, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in counseling psychology.

What does activism mean to you?

Activism, to me, is a way of life! I feel a sense of personal responsibility to speak up on behalf of folx who are not present when decisions that affect them are being made. When folx are in the room, my goal is to validate, support, and encourage them to speak up for themselves. Activism means holding myself accountable to utilize and/or surrender my privileges to bring about equitable social change.

Which of your activist events/activities have been most impactful to you and why?

As a scientist-practitioner-community worker, I love what I do! The most impactful work that I do is community outreach. The Ivory Tower is very siloed from the communities that I love and serve. It’s an honor to be a cultural broker who uses my educational privileges to give Black people the knowledge, language, resources, and tools they need to live meaningful lives. Here is a recent example: Based on my research exploring how Black people cope with the double pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism (Dogan et al., in preparation), I have facilitated seven virtual mental health and self-care workshops. The content of these workshops include culturally-relevant psychoeducation and self- and collective- care strategies for Black participants to implement in their daily lives.

How do your intersecting identities impact your activism?

My intersecting identities as a Black, heterosexual, cisgender woman from a middle-class “it takes a village” background provides me with a particular worldview and set of experiences that inform my work. I see people as intrinsically worthy yet existing in complex, interlocking systems that seek to silence and “other” them. Being too familiar with these systems as a Black woman, my goal is to guide people to resist the damage that oppression can have on our mental, physical, social, and sexual health.

As a counseling psychologist in training, what role does activism play in your work (research, clinical work, service, etc.)?

Activism is the foundation to all of my research, practice, and community work. As a mixed methods researcher, I enjoy conducting research (i.e., “me-search”) because I can be creative in exploring the intricacies of human behavior and interactions. I strive to tell counternarratives about the lived experiences of Black people. My practice is focused on working with underserved Black populations who generally do not have access to culturally-competent mental health care. Hence, I try my best to ensure that every interaction with my clients is loving and therapeutic. Last, my community work consists of translating psychology so that it is digestible and jargon-free. One way in which I translate my research and practice is through my Instagram platform, @blkfolxtherapy, which allows me to connect with people worldwide and build a virtual community. My hope is that increasing the visibility of Black psychologists will help break down barriers and stigmas to mental health treatment among Black folx.

Anything else you think would be important for me to know about you/your activism?

I used to believe the only way to be an activist was to protest legislation on Capitol Hill. However, I think activism is a personal journey that each person is allowed to define. Activism requires personal growth and with time, eventually becomes an identity of its own. Since most people interact with systems of oppression on a daily basis, I believe everyone can become an activist by taking opportunities to speak up and act out for others in various ways such as during meetings, in classrooms, at community events, etc. In the world of activism, small actions matter too in fighting for change!

Jardin Dogan, M.Ed., Ed.S., a fourth-year doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Her intersectionality-informed research and practice have a three-pronged focus: 1) Black identity, racial trauma, and mental health; 2) Black sexualities, sexual pleasure, and intimate relationships; and 3) drug use, incarceration, and racial health disparities. She seeks to help heal Black people and to break down barriers and stigmas related to mental health and wellness within Black communities. To learn more about her work, visit jardindogan.com or follow her on Instagram @blkfolxtherapy!

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Author Bio: Nelson O. O. Zounlome (he/him/his), M.S.Ed. is a first-generation college student, child of immigrants, and native of South Bend, IN. He is also a McNair Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, Herman B. Wells Graduate Fellow, and counseling psychology Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University (IU). He studies academic persistence and mental wellness to promote holistic healing among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Nelson is dedicated to helping BIPOC Communities liberate themselves and achieve their wildest dreams. https://www.nelsonzounlome.com/

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