by Jueta B. McCutchan, Psy.D., '14
Loyola gave me the confidence in the education that I received, which is important as I returned to American Samoa (no, not San Juan nor Somalia), one of only two clinical psychologists on island. I served as clinical supervisor for the Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) where I provided in-services for staff, helping to build capacity amongst my own Samoan people on topics that included working with children with sexual behavioral problems and motivational interviewing to working with LGBT communities.
The beauty of working in a place with little resources is the opportunity to be creative. Through the Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS), I spearheaded the first “embracing our colors” color run in American Samoa that yielded over 200 participants, to demonstrate the link between physical and mental health. We were also able to host the first Behavioral Health Summit that yielded over 150 participants, including mental health consumers, family members, and service providers. At present, we are in the process of establishing a certification board for addictions counselors in addition to peer support services, recognizing the need for more skilled professionals in the field of substance use disorders. As I transition into my new role as the clinical psychologist at the Veterans Affairs (VA) community outpatient clinic in American Samoa, I cannot help but think about the journey that led me to where I am now. Even now, every action that I take is guided by the Jesuit value of “persons for and with others.” All of the experiences I had, both positive and otherwise, have made me the type of psychologist that I know my mentors (shout-out to Drs. Adanna Johnson-Evans and Heather Lyons) and community can be proud to claim.