Another round of firsts!
A University of Cincinnati (UC) graduate makes history as one of the first Black men to receive a Ph.D. in school psychology, TNR reports.
Kamontá Heidelberg is a Cincinnati native and the first in his family to attend college. After graduating from high school, Heidelberg initially began his post-graduate studies at North Carolina A&T, but returned home to Cincinnati after his father passed and transferred to UC. He went on to earn his bachelor’s in psychology and his master’s in education. While his journey was not without its fair share of struggle, he knew he still had more to accomplish.
“I knew that I wanted to do more with my psychology degree, so I was looking into various programs, and reaching out to different faculty members at UC in order to find guidance in what I wanted to do next. Then, I came across the school psychology program,” Heidelberg said. “I met with Tai Collins, who is an associate professor now. I talked about my interests and what I wanted to do. He told me that I would be a great school psychologist.”
Determined to pursue a career helping youth, Heidelberg enrolled in the program at UC. However, he ran into some hardship along the way.
“Financial burdens are something that’s not often discussed when trying to pursue a doctoral degree, such as applying for internships and going on conferences…that is a big barrier,” Heidelberg said. “Being a first-generation [college student], there’s also unspoken rules, like networking appropriately, and the rigor is definitely challenging.”
He said he received support from the university and various organizations along the way that helped tremendously, but there were some internal adjustments Heidelberg knew he had to make. He was aware of the impact his presence in the program made, not only as a first-generation college student, but as a Black man with his background. Heidelberg said he had to realize that he had “a seat at the table now, [and the ability] to influence big decisions that can really impact or hurt individuals.”
Despite the obstacles, he is grateful for the journey and proud to be the first Black male to graduate from the doctoral program. He hopes his presence can open up doors for many more to run through.
“It lets us know that we still have a lot of work to do. I know I am the first and definitely don’t want to be the last. My goal is to give back and ensure [that] others…can obtain this degree if they’re willing to,” he said.
Congratulations, Dr. Kamonta!
Photo Courtesy of @uofcincy/Instagram