Gagan S. Khera
Dr. Gagan S. Khera is an Associate Professor at Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire in the Graduate Counseling and School Psychology Programs and the newly founded PsyD program in Counseling and School Psychology. Dr. Khera is trained as a child Clinical Psychologist. She received her PhD from the George Washington University and completed her internship at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Her post-doctoral fellowship was at Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School. After completing her training, she worked as a Program Evaluator at the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University and as a Program Director at Peace First. Her research interests include South Asians, immigrants, second-generation individuals, school-based interventions, cultural competency training, and community building.
What drew you to the field of psychology and your current area of interest?
I was drawn to psychology when I was in high school. My mother is a psychiatrist and while growing up she shared her love of helping people. I thought it was fascinating how emotional health and physical health are interconnected. I found myself interesting in South Asian research and immigration when I was at Wellesley College. There was a student who did a Senior Thesis looking at Korean students on campus and I decided that I wanted to study South Asians at Wellesley. This led me to realize South Asians were considered the “forgotten” Asians due to the small numbers of South Asians in psychology. I also did Teach For America after Wellesley, and this experience led me to my strong interest in under-served populations, trilingual children/undocumented children, and urban schools.
Could you tell us about your time between undergraduate and graduate school? How did these experiences help to prepare you for graduate study?
I did TFA in Phoenix for 2 years, I taught first grade and it was life changing. Some of my students are still important people in my life today, and its been nearly 18 years. I applied to graduate school when I was living in Phoenix and then matriculated into the PhD program at The George Washington University.
How do you think we can get more Asian Americans interested in psychology, starting at the undergraduate level?
I think as more Asian Americans teach psychology, the more will enter the field. There is a strong need to provide services to Asians in the US and in Asian countries, and hopefully, students will pursue advanced degrees– currently I teach graduate students in a Counseling and School Psychology program and my hope is we will see more students come wanting to work with Asian populations.
What advice would you give any undergraduates who are thinking about majoring in psychology, or pursuing graduate school in psychology?
The field is changing, managed care has changed the way many people practice therapy, research experience matters, reach out to alumnae in the field, there are many of us.
Could you tell us a bit about what it means to be an AAPA Leadership Fellow and what work/projects you will be pursuing as a Fellow?
Becoming a Leadership Fellow has been a wonderful opportunity thus far. I have been given a mentor who I connect with on a regular basis and will be working on a project, still to be determined, this summer. I’m also a EC board member for the Division of South Asian Americans, and hope to connect that role with my Leadership fellowship.