With research interests ranging from the impact of chronic illness on the individual and family to health disparities among ethnic minority populations, Hernandez was delighted with the hands-on approach and collaborative guidance provided by the clinical psychology program at IUPUI.
In preparing her thesis, Hernandez blended her interests in psychology and oncology, as well as examined these disciplines in a study of personal and cultural interest. Her thesis examined depression in Mexican-American caregivers, under the guidance of Silvia M. Bigatti, Ph.D. “The primary reason I chose to attend IUPUI was because of the opportunity to be mentored by Dr. Bigatti,” says Hernandez. “I could not ask for more in a mentor. She was generous with her time and knowledge and provided me with a wonderful training experience. “ For her doctoral dissertation, Hernandez studied beliefs about breast cancer among Hispanics.
“I have been impressed with Ann Marie’s performance,” says Bigatti. “She demonstrated incredible motivation to succeed, determination, and enthusiasm. Unlike many doctoral students, she is not overwhelmed by the amount of work, and yet she is constantly working, and constantly improving in all aspects of her performance.”
Interaction with the community was also encouraged in her degree program. As part of her master’s and Ph.D. practicums, she worked with patients from diverse backgrounds in the surrounding community where she interviewed patients, interacted with doctors, administered psychological tests, and participated in patients’ treatment plans.“I was impressed with the practicum opportunities,” says Hernandez, who completed practicums at the IU Simon Cancer Center as part of the CompleteLife Psychosocial Oncology Team, at Larue D. Carter Memorial Hospital, with Indiana University Department of Medicine- Division of Rheumatology, and the Indiana University Psychiatry Department.
Hernandez found that her hard work and research training was appreciated by the scientific community. “A highlight of my graduate career was receiving the Training for Research in Behavioral Oncology Pre-doctoral Fellowship, funded by the National Cancer Institute, which provided me with funding and training opportunities,” says Hernandez. “The awards I received allowed me to pursue my research interests.”
Hernandez’ success has continued. “The clinical and research experiences prepared me to successfully match to my top internship choice,” says Hernandez, who spent the summer as a general psychology intern with the United States Department of Veterans affairs at South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
Hernandez is now a postdoctoral fellow with the STRONG STAR Research Consortium in San Antonio, Texas, at The University of Texas Health Science Center. With a great education behind her, “I have been able to receive great training that meets my professional and personal goals.”