Stephen Berk, Ph.D., ABPN, was a full-time faculty member in the Psy.D. program who was often considered a role model on how to balance a stellar career with being a dedicated father, husband and friend. After his death in 2012, The Stephen N. Berk Memorial Award was created to honor his life’s work.
The recipient of this year’s award was chosen from a list of accomplished doctoral psychology students, all of whom have an impressive record of academic and clinical success. The criteria for the award capture the essence of Dr. Berk: academic excellence, leadership in and beyond the program, commitment to service, sense of humor and joi de vivre.
Qianna Snooks, a fifth-year student, was the doctoral faculties’ choice to be the 2016 award winner. Snooks earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, she is in the process of completing her course requirements and applying for an internship. Her dissertation focuses on the provision of wraparound care for juveniles at risk for out-of-home placement. “Research is showing that a lot of these young people have trauma history,” she says. “If you don’t address the trauma, you’re just putting a band aid on it. These youth will require adult intervention because no one addressed the problem when it would have had the most effect.”
Snooks already has gotten a lot of practical experience in the field in which she wants to ultimately practice. “I would someday like to work in forensic psychology,” says Snooks. “I want to deal with people who have somehow been involved with the legal system.” Two practicums she completed allowed her to do just that — she worked with juvenile offenders with histories of trauma in Bucks County and with a forensic psychologist in Allentown, Pa., where she worked on cases for the Public Defender’s office, helping to determine if 16 or 17-year-olds should be tried as adults. Her third practicum was completed at Child Guidance Resource Center in Havertown, Pa.
Qianna was surprised and humbled when her name was announced in front of the doctoral student body, faculty and staff. “I do a lot, but not in order to get awards,” she says with a laugh. “It felt awesome that I was getting recognized for all my hard work. I’m very grateful to the faculty and staff for the honor of receiving this award, and I will continue to work hard to help those with mental illness, especially in the forensic area.”
— Brenda Lange
This story originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Connections. To read more from that issue, click here.