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College of Humanities & Sciences

Psychology Department

2016-2017 Fellows

For the 2016-2017 year, VCU welcomed 12 fellows from Bolivia, Burundi, Ecuador, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uruguay, Pakistan and Vietnam.

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Ms. Maria Elisa Cabrera

Montevideo, Uruguay

Ms. Maria Elisa Cabrera, from Montevideo, Uruguay, obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting in 2010, and her post-graduate degree in health services management in 2015, both from the State University of Economics in Uruguay. She also completed several courses on quality management in health services.  Ms. Cabrera has more than five years of experience in the non-profit sector, and she is currently an accountant in the Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay for the National Drugs Assembly and the National Drug Board. Among her many responsibilities, she coordinates and provides administrative assistance to drug treatment centers, assessing the unique needs of each institution and ensuring that their budgets are consistent with their program objectives. Her experience has equipped her with a variety of skills, such as project design and management, program assessment, and financial management. During her fellowship, Ms. Cabrera seeks to enhance her knowledge about substance abuse counseling, drug policy, and program evaluation, as well as establish strong contacts with organizations involved in international drug policy in the Americas. In addition, she hopes to use her fellowship experience to design and expand substance abuse programs and collaborate in the economic evaluation of cannabis legalization laws in Uruguay.

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Dr. Gilbert Habonimana

Bujumbura, Burundi

Dr. Gilbert Habonimana, from Bujumbura, Burundi, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Burundi with a medical degree in 2010. He is a general practitioner with a certificate in emergency surgery and obstetric care. He was assigned to Rutovu and Matana Hospitals in 2010, where he worked as a primary care physician and contributed strongly in emergency surgery and obstetric care in those remote areas. Dr. Habonimana was the medical director of Matana Hospital for three years where he acquired experience in health policy and management, addressing the health needs of under-resourced communities. Dr. Habonimana then began working with prestigious NGOs (Pathfinder International, FHI360) on various projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as a maternal and child technical and program officer.  He is currently working at a local non-profit organization (Burundi Development) as the medical coordinator. His main duties are to provide technical assistance to health facilities to achieve cost-effective delivery of health care services and to be an advocate to potential donors. During his fellowship, Dr. Habonimana hopes to acquire public health knowledge and skills to provide him with a stronger background for working in the areas of health policy and management. 

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Mr. Samuel Cudjoe Hanu

Accra, Ghana

Mr. Samuel Cudjoe Hanu, from Accra, Ghana, is a psychiatric nurse at Accra Psychiatric Hospital. Mr. Hanu began his career as a staff nurse at Accra Psychiatric Hospital in 2001, and has risen through the ranks to his current position as a nursing officer with supervisory and management responsibilities. In 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Ghana, Legon. And, in 2016, he earned a master’s degree in Addiction Studies from the International Program in Addiction Studies; jointly operated by Kings College London, Adelaide University (Australia) and Virginia Commonwealth University (USA). Mr. Hanu is a part-time mental health and psychiatric nursing tutor at a private nursing training school in Accra, and an examiner for the nursing and midwifery council of Ghana. He is a member of the West African Drug Policy Network, a fellow of the West African College of Nursing, and the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives. During his fellowship, Mr. Hanu wants to obtain practical experience in drug abuse prevention and education, and he hopes to become familiar with evidence-based treatment options as well as the use of psychotherapy in drug abuse treatment. In addition, Mr. Hanu wants to become skilled in the use of different strategies to effectively influence public policy.

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Mr. James Mongare Kenga

Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. James Mongare Kenga, from Nairobi, Kenya, is a counseling psychologist who obtained his bachelor's degree at Egerton University in 2014. Mr. Kenga serves as a social welfare officer at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison where he has been in charge of substance abuse training, counseling and program coordination since 2012. Mr. Kenga also works as a volunteer substance abuse counselor, and he participates in anti-drug campaigns sponsored by Kenya’s National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Mr. Kenga is an experienced trainer, having trained inmates, peer counselors and other professionals on drug abuse and relapse prevention. In addition, Mr. Kenga works as a project coordinator with women’s groups on economic empowerment, gender mainstreaming, and poverty eradication. During his fellowship, Mr Kenga plans to design prevention and treatment programs for staff and inmates who have substance use related problems. He also hopes to develop his skills in conducting surveys on substance abuse. Mr. Kenga plans to learn more about health care systems for persons with substance use disorders, fundraising and evidence-based treatment programs. He hopes to use his new skills and knowledge to help him work with decision makers in Kenya to develop more effective drug control strategies.

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Dr. Olajumoke “Jummy” Koyejo


Dr. Olajumoke “Jummy” Koyejo, from Nigeria, is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, where she earned degrees in medicine and surgery. She is a fellow of the National Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria, in the faculty of psychiatry. Dr. Koyejo had her residency training in the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba, in Lagos, where she now works as a consultant psychiatrist in the largest substance abuse unit in Nigeria. She is also a regional manager and head of the mental health team for the non-governmental, non-profit, international health promotion organization Live Well Initiative. Her research is mainly in the area of substance abuse, and she is a certified trainer and user of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). She conducts occupational mental health services in cooperation with corporate organizations, especially transport companies, in educating their drivers about the effects of drug abuse on their jobs and health. During her fellowship year, Dr. Koyejo seeks to increase her knowledge of research, addiction prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.  She hopes to learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy and telepsychiatry in the treatment of substance use disorders, and to acquire skills in outpatient drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Dr. Koyejo also wishes to improve her public speaking and media technology skills.

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Dr. Gulnar Magauina

Astana, Kazakhstan

Dr. Gulnar Magauina, from Astana, Kazakhstan, earned her medical degree from the State Medical Institute of Karaganda in 1987, and in 1995 she completed a specialization in allergy and immunology at the Russian Academy for Postgraduate Education in Moscow. In 2013 she was trained at the Lithuania University of Health Science on the management of family medicine. Since 2013, Dr. Magauina has been working as the head of the Department of Family Medicine in the Republican Diagnostic Center. In this position, she implemented safety and quality standards, as well as patient-centered services, and she introduced triage, tracer, and timeout concepts. As a result of these improvements, the Republican Diagnostic Center was certified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation in 2014. An allergist and immunologist for children and adults with over 20 years of experience, during her fellowship Dr. Magauina seeks to enhance her skills in evidence-based management in public health, health care and family medicine. She also plans to increase her knowledge about international insurance and to learn strategies for working with international insurance companies.  Additionally, she wants to expand her knowledge about primary immunodeficiency and orphan diseases, new diagnostic and treatment methods, and anaphylaxis management.

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Ms. Daniela Ocaña-Gordillo

Quito, Ecuador

Ms. Daniela Ocaña-Gordillo, from Quito, Ecuador, earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science from the Catholic University of Ecuador in 2010. For the past five years, she has worked in the National Drug Observatory of her country’s office of drug prevention. As a researcher in the National Drug Observatory, she has been responsible for designing and conducting quantitative and qualitative studies to assess drug use patterns in specific target populations. She is the author or co-author of many reports that describe drug use patterns in Ecuador, and she has represented her organization in many national and international meetings. Ms. Ocaña-Gordillo also has extensive experience working with individual communities to identify community needs and to design and conduct interventions to address those needs. In addition, she has been active in developing public policies and laws to address Ecuador’s drug problems. During her fellowship, Ms. Ocaña-Gordillo would like to improve her research skills, especially in epidemiology and biostatistics. She plans to use her new research skills to conduct studies that lead to a greater understanding of heroin and opioid use in Ecuador. Ultimately, she wants to use this information to develop more effective treatment and prevention programs and policies to reduce adolescent substance abuse.

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Ms. Huyen Pham

Hanoi, Vietnam

Ms. Huyen Pham, from Hanoi, Vietnam, has been a senior researcher for drug policy related studies with the Center for Research and Training on HIV/AIDS (CREATA) at Hanoi Medical University (HMU) since 2009. Her academic training was in the area of public health, including a bachelor’s degree from HMU in 2008 and a master’s degree from the University of Queensland in 2013, which she attended with the help of an Australian Agency for International Development Scholarship. Ms. Pham’s work has been primarily in the areas of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS health policy, exploring opportunities for the implementation of harm reduction strategies in Vietnam. She has been implementing CREATA’s goal to be a bridge between policy makers, policy implementers (including treatment and service providers), and drug users. She has worked with several international partners including the WHO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. During her fellowship, Ms. Pham seeks to gain a comprehensive understanding of drug abuse treatment and training. Along with this, she hopes to learn about U.S. drug policies and programs, and she expects to network with other fellows and professionals to facilitate future cooperation and research on evidence-based drug policies and practices.

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Dr. Maria Rodrigues

Maputo, Mozambique

Dr. Maria Rodrigues, from Maputo, Mozambique, obtained her medical degree in Mozambique from the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in 2004 and, in 2007, a master’s degree in Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil. Dr. Rodrigues is a child health advisor for the Maternal and Child Survival Program where she works to support the Ministry of Health in its efforts to improve children’s health and reduce child mortality. Prior to this, Dr. Rodrigues worked for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition as the maternal and infant child nutrition advisor to promote improvements in infant and child nutrition in her country. She also has experience in the areas of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, crisis intervention, health communication, and working with underserved communities.  She has worked extensively with programs funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dr. Rodrigues is also an educator, teaching at the National Health Institute for Sciences in the departments of public policy and nutrition. The goals for her fellowship are to improve her skills in the area of evidence-based programs for maternal and child health, and nutrition.  She is especially interested in social and behavior change communication and addressing health disparities.

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Dr. Igor Salvatierra

La Paz, Bolivia

Dr. Igor Salvatierra, from La Paz, Bolivia, earned his medical degree from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres of Bolivia in 1999, and his specialization in Medical Genetics and Bioethics from Pontifical Javeriana University of Colombia in 2005. He founded the Medical Genetics Unit of Arco Iris Hospital in La Paz where he provides genetic counseling to patients with hereditary disorders. He also conducts research on the causes, risks, and frequency of birth defects, including those resulting from the use of alcohol during pregnancy. His major interest is identifying patterns of epigenetic mechanisms involved in intellectual disabilities in patients with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). During his fellowship year, Dr. Salvatierra seeks to expand his skills and abilities in research methods. He also seeks to update his knowledge about the most recent molecular genetics techniques and share new experiences with peers in molecular genetics research. In addition, he plans to pursue other interests in public policy for alcohol use prevention during pregnancy, along with working on improving his skills in early diagnosis and treatment for patients with FAS. Dr. Salvatierra also has a long-term objective to increase the quality and quantity of research in his country.

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Dr. Salman Shahzad

Karachi, Pakistan

Dr. Salman Shahzad, from Karachi, Pakistan, has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and he is a consultant clinical psychologist and an assistant professor in the Institute of Clinical Psychology (ICP), University of Karachi. As an internationally certified addiction trainer, he is conducting training on the treatment and prevention of SUDs and leading the research and training unit for the prevention and treatment of SUDs at the ICP. He is a member of the editorial board of a number of international scientific journals and is active as a researcher. The principal areas of Dr. Shahzad's work are monitoring and evaluation of programs, epidemiology of and psychosocial risk factors for substance use, and stigma related to SUDs and HIV/AIDS. Since 2004, he has been volunteering in charity-based community organizations that focus on the prevention and treatment of substance use, and has received awards for his service. During his fellowship program, Dr. Shahzad will focus on developing advanced skills and scientific knowledge in assessing, monitoring and evaluating substance use prevention and treatment interventions and programs, community coalition building, and epidemiological research methods. He wants to use his new skills to strengthen services for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and to inform drug policies in Pakistan.

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Ms. Nazish Yousaf

Muzaffarabad, Pakistan

Ms. Nazish Yousaf, from Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, obtained her master’s degree in psychology from the University of Peshawar in 2006, and a post magistral diploma in clinical psychology from the Sarhad University of Science and Technology in 2014. She currently is pursuing a master’s of science degree in clinical psychology from International Islamic University in Islamabad. Ms. Yousaf has completed her internship at the Dost Welfare Foundation and at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. As an assistant psychologist in the social welfare department of the Drug Addicts Rehabilitation Center in Muzaffarabad, her responsibilities include providing psycho-social support to female victims of domestic violence and treating ensuing psychological problems. In addition, she is involved in the assessment and diagnosis of individual cases and in the preparation of case histories, diagnostic reports, and treatment plans. Ms. Yousaf conducts psychological tests and analyzes test results to inform therapy and behavioral modification for drug addicts and their rehabilitation. During her fellowship, she plans to enhance her knowledge regarding substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention. She also wants to learn about new counseling techniques and evidence-based treatment programs for those addicted to drugs, and to learn research skills which would help inform drug policy.

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This is a program of the US Department of State, administered by the Institute for International Education.



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