Wait... America Broke Up With You? A Talk with Dr. Kevin Nadal

December 21, 2016



Dr. Kevin Nadal, the Excellence Fees Diversity Student Advisor, sometimes writes for online publications.  The day after our presidential election, his article was published on The Huffington Post: “America Just Broke Up with Me."   It details his thoughts and emotions; click here for more!


We first met on that interesting evening, or “the aftermath,” as I like to call it.  There was almost a veil of mourning clouding New York City that day.  Many were shocked, no matter what side of the political spectrum you were on.  Students were full of emotion and didn’t know exactly where or how to express it.  Thankfully, Dr. Nadal moderated a round table discussion that evening at John Jay, for anyone who needed an outlet.  It was an open forum: come and scream, cry, ponder, celebrate, or just listen if students weren’t exactly sure how to begin to process.


The discussion was the first night of talks in a monthly diversity training series, hosted by the Forensic Counseling Student Group, as a way to discuss and explore many issues and topics counselors and people in the psychology field encounter.  The theme was how we can take political knowledge into our work as counseling and psychology students. 

Dr. Nadal has a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.  He worked at JJ as an adjunct professor while finishing his dissertation.    And that night, he put his hard-earned degree to work.  He guided us through the hour-long discussion, prompting questions, and encouraging us to stand up for what we believed in and to support our fellow peers and colleagues of all backgrounds and their rights, as many of us asked, “What next? What can we do?”

The diversity series and Dr. Nadal made a great team.  He currently researches multicultural issues in psychology and focuses on understanding the consequences of microagressions on mental health.  Microagressions are subtle forms of discrimination, and are usually pitted against the other: people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups; the communities we want to respect, value, promote, support, champion, and reassure that we all live in this world together, equally.  Having encountered discrimination himself, he knows how important it is to bring awareness to accepting all people, and how mental health can be negatively influenced by such discrimination.  


Dr. Nadal entered psychology because he wanted to understand experiences of these often marginalized people that aren’t well represented, so little was written in the field about them.  A man of many hats, psychology didn’t quite fit all his identities and experiences.  Visit his website, www.kevinnadal.com, and witness how he seamlessly merges the areas of his life.  He was a comedian and performed spoken word.  He is the host of Out Talk with Dr. Kevin Nadal -a talk show focusing on social justice issues in the US.  He’s published over 90 works, and is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. Just to name a few of those areas.


He had great mentors who pushed him in many directions that he was not necessarily familiar with.  He urges students to meet with professors and explore their research.  Create a network of advice.  Be intentional about self-care; don’t treat it as an after-thought.  “Know what your limits are, and take time to not overextend yourself.  Always push for what you need, but sleep; eat healthily.  Spend time with your loved ones, even if you need to schedule that.”

“I wish I knew that although academia is important, it’s also important to be part of different communities and engage in civic responsibilities,” he said.  “I think I did ok with that; I think I thought it had to be an either/or situation.”  He knows now that it isn’t.  “Get involved in the communities you want to work in.”  Even if you aren’t a part of that certain group, research them; get educated; share in their experience.   

Another area of his expertise encompasses the Filipino American community and its mental health.  He serves as President of the Asian American Psychological Association.  He is also the Executive Director of CLAGS, the Center for LGBTQ Studies, at the CUNY Graduate Center.  It’s the oldest university-based program in the world.  Dr. Nadal is an open, supportive, and accepting professor, who advocates for positive change and the social justice that all our voices continue to be heard.

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