International student hopes her research will benefit her country

When Fairuziana was accepted for a research assistant internship at Harvard University, she knew she was going to conduct scientific research and protocols. She didn’t expect to also gain insight into her potential future, connect with new colleagues from around the world, and discover a new-fangled confidence in her research skills and capabilities.

Fairuziana, who uses a single name, was hesitant to apply to the summer internship program in the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health because she was unsure how she would be able to afford the cost of living in Boston. Much to her surprise, she was granted permission to do the role remotely from Miami.

"I’m subscribed to a mailing list of global mental health opportunities, and when I saw the announcement, I thought it might be a good opportunity. So, I went for it,” said Fairuziana, a native of Indonesia. "Once accepted, my supervisor granted me flexibility because of the nature of the work. I’m pretty lucky that I can stay here and I’m very happy that it worked out for me.”

Since June, Fairuziana has worked 20 hours per week investigating a systematic review of emotion regulation in youth mental health interventions in lowand middle-income countries. She had help from the software tool Covidence-which screens research titles and abstracts that were imported from selected databases of peer-reviewed English articles. Her goal is to see which study was effective in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychosis in youth.

According to Fairuziana, this work is highly important because it will help her to understand how people like her can benefit from the lived experiences of others. And she can use the information to better serve her own community one day.

"I’ve always been interested in mental health. Coming from Indonesia, which doesn’t have a lot of mental health treatment, I particularly see the need in my community for additional studies, awareness, and treatment,” she said. "As someone who is aspiring to be an independent researcher in academia, I want to be able to translate these phenomena and change things in my community.”

Prior to attending the University of Miami, she received her master’s degree in community psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. Upon graduating, she searched for a doctoral community well-being program with a vision and mission that fascinated her. Subsequently, she decided on the program established by professor Isaac Prilleltensky, the University’s inaugural Erwin and Barbara Mautner Chair in Community Well-Being, as her first choice.

"This program is one of the very few community well-being programs in the United States and I am grateful to be led by a very prominent scholar in the field,” Fairuziana said about Prilleltensky.

"Fairuz is an exceptional student-highly motivated and conscientious-with an interest in advancing the well-being of Muslim women, especially in Indonesia, her country of origin,” said Prilleltensky. "We are delighted that she has joined our community well-being doctoral program in the School of Education and Human Development. She is highly respected by professors and students alike.”

"It is an absolute pleasure to work with Fairuz,” said professor Dina Birman , who heads the Richard J. Kurtz Family Community Well-Being program. "She is a dedicated scholar, brings a wealth of knowledge, and cares deeply about her work. We are fortunate to have her in our program.”

Most recently, along with Prilleltensky and other students, Fairuziana co-authored a chapter on the influence of context on the experience of mattering, wellness, and fairness in Aceh, Indonesia.

"Her contributions to the chapter were excellent, as was her collaborative attitude,” said Prilleltensky.