Global Fulbright Scholar honors awarded to OLLU professor

    Associate professor of psychology at Our Lady of the Lake University Dr. Laurie Charles, PhD, was named to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to study in Kosovo and Sri Lanka in 2017-18. (Courtesy Photo)

    The prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program has another recipient in Laurie Charles, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU).

    The award allows Dr. Charles, who plans to study in Kosovo and Sri Lanka, to analyze how those countries are working to overcome mental health challenges and psychosocial service delivery to families after the war.

    Dr. Charles is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach and conduct research abroad for the 2017-18 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program.

    “I feel amazed, humble and proud to bring the attention to [Kosovo and Sri Lanka] and the issues that families are facing in a different country,” said Dr. Charles to La Prensa. “I have been a Fulbright awardee before, but not a Global Fulbright award. It’s only the second year that they have the program and I feel honored to be in the second group.”

    Dr. Charles’s curiosity about systems of family communication led her to studying in family counseling, and earning a Phd. Over time, her research went intentional, working with families plagued by war, poverty and unemployment.

    Although she has been to both countries before, Dr. Charles wants this experience to be one of international partnerships to help families in need. She humbly expressed that this will not only be an experience to take to OLLU, but one where she will constantly be learning—as a student.

     “You are never at a place where you have achieved competency,” continued Dr. Charles. “I’ve read about the places, and I’ve learned there is real work to do in both countries. I am in the same place as mental health professionals, human life workers, psychologists to journalists. I enjoy talking to innovating people who are continuing to do [research].”

    OLLU has become one of the leading institutions in awarding both master’s and doctoral degrees for those entering the various field of psychological research or clinical practice.

    The Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations Certificate (PSSSP) produces mental health practitioners who are equally competent to provide services in English and Spanish. Core courses are taught in Spanish or bilingually and students have the option of taking a language and cultural immersion course taught in a Spanish speaking country. PSSSP students will also receive supervision in Spanish of their practicum work with Spanish speaking clients.

    Since implementing the PSSSP program, the percentage of Hispanic students admitted to the PsyD program has risen from 18 to 42 percent. Data collected by the American Psychological Association indicated that Hispanics comprised only six percent of all incoming psychology doctoral students in 2002-2003.

    “[The] PSSSD certificate was the first program of its kind in the U.S. and has been here for the past 20 years,” continued Dr. Charles. “I think that type of work is unique and normal in the focus to the family therapy program and teaching students how to work more internationally and to be culturally sensitive.”

    Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 37,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to teach, study, conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns.

    57 have been awarded Nobel Prizes, 82 have received Pulitzer Prizes and 37 have served as a head of state or government.

    For more information on the Fulbright Program, visit