Research experience inspires LU 2018 David J. Beck Fellow

Research experience inspires LU 2018 David J. Beck Fellow

Lamar University junior Sakurah Fisher of Port Arthur is gaining real world experience in her pursuit of her passion for psychology and was recently announced as a 2018 David J. Beck Fellow at LU giving her resources to engage in research this summer.

A graduate of Memorial High School, her formative years were spent in Tokyo, Japan, and those experiences shape her interests.

“I believe that growing up in Tokyo showed me how different eastern and western cultures truly are,” said Fisher. “Tokyo is a great place, but the way you interact with people and priorities are completely different than the United States.”

The psychology major credits her upbringing in Japan as the birthplace of her interest in mental health.

“There is a lot stigma against mental illness in the eastern world,” said Fisher. “People do not seek the help they need and it can have devastating results on that person. I saw this a lot growing up. Since then, I’ve been passionate about mental health and getting people seeking treatment.”

The stigma against mental illness in eastern countries soon became the foundation of her McNair Scholars independent research.

“As a McNair Scholar, I examined international students and if they were seeking help when it involved mental health,” said Fisher. I studied approximately 30 international students and monitored how they were dealing with their stress and depression. Although my results were inconclusive, my numbers projected success if I had a larger sample.”

Desiring more research experience, Fisher’s next step into immersing herself into her field was to apply for the Beck Fellowship.

“As I became involved in independent research, I wanted to pursue more advanced research,” said Fisher. “After reading about the fellowship, I started picturing all of the possibilities the Beck Fellowship would give me. Then my McNair Scholars mentor, Dr. Edythe Kirke, encouraged me to apply. When I was informed that I had gotten the fellowship, I almost couldn’t believe it.”

Sakurah’s 11-week summer project will take her to New York State where she will join a team of researchers under Antigona Martinez, Ph.D. at the renowned Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.

“While in New York, I’ll be joining a team of researchers working on non-invasive brain stimulation on sensory based cognitive impairments in schizophrenia patients,” said Fisher. “By placing myself in this environment, I will not only gain experience that stimulates my passion to pursue a career in psychology, but the work will challenge my academic capabilities.”

In addition to her academic pursuits, Fisher is involved in numerous student organizations. She is currently a member of Cardinals Beyond Borders, Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and the Lamar Honors Student Association. She was recognized as the 2017 Greek New Member of the Year, and is a member of Order of Omega and Psi Chi International Psychology Honor Society.

Fisher has also participated in two Lamar study-abroad experiences.

“My study abroad experiences in Italy and South Korea expanded my worldview immensely,” said Fisher. “The cultures are so different and I got to see some of the of the most iconic pieces of history in the world. I think it really helped further my understanding of how psychology is different in all parts of the world.”

Fisher holds five scholarships, including the Smith-Hutson and McFaddin-Ward Memorial awards. In addition, she is a tutor for Lamar’s STARS Center, is a peer mentor in a Lamar Learning Community, is a Lamar water safety instructor, and her name is a regular on the Dean’s and President’s Lists.

“Being involved at Lamar is a rewarding opportunity for me to assist students while they are growing as learners,” said Fisher. I enjoy seeing the progress of students I meet and watching them develop further both academically and personally.”

In her free time, Fisher participates in community service.

“I have simply never learned to say no to people or organizations that need help,” said Fisher. “I am someone who is always ready and willing to help others, so it never feels as if it is a chore. It is just the right thing to do.”

Sakurah plans to complete her academic studies, including graduate degrees, and enter the mental health care profession as a Ph.D clinical psychologist.

“All of my experience at Lamar has helped me get to where I am today,” said Fisher. “At a bigger university, I don’t think I would have the same opportunities I’ve had a Lamar. They’re influence has pushed me to work harder and inspired me to become one of the best in my field. The professors really care about you, and it makes the learning experience so much better.”

The David J. Beck Fellowships reward outstanding academic achievement and allow top students to further challenge themselves with unique opportunities for undergraduate research and creative study.

Beck Fellowships are awarded competitively to outstanding scholars. It is awarded to up to two fellows for one calendar year. Each fellow chooses a Lamar University faculty member as a project mentor.

Through a generous gift to the Lamar University Foundation, David J. Beck established these undergraduate fellowships for students with high academic performance in any discipline.

Beck, who has been recognized by several publications as one of the top lawyers in the state, region and nation, is a founding partner of Beck Redden & Secrest in Houston, a premier litigation boutique firm. He has served as president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Association of Defense Counsel and the State Bar of Texas.

A 1961 Lamar University graduate and distinguished alumnus, Beck has served as president of the Lamar University Foundation and a regent of the Lamar University System.

A Port Arthur native whose father worked at a refinery and mother worked to raise five children, Beck credits the university with giving him the opportunity to attend college and gain a foundation for future success.

- Lamar University