Graduate Studies

Robert Lester Selected for Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program

Chico State Masters Graduate Robert Lester

CSU, Chico student Robert Lester was selected as a 2017-2018 Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) recipient.

Lester completed his Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at CSU Chico in the 2017 spring semester after receiving his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in 2014. Lester credits his faculty mentor, Dr. Arthur Sanchez, and the process of applying for the CDIP with helping him to figure out his long term career goals and interests. He states that the application “required that I not only consider my academic vision, but consider and write out concrete steps towards achieving that vision.” After carefully considering all aspects of his educational journey thus far, Lester concluded that “I realized that I am passionate about finding ways to include spirituality in the training of marriage and family therapists.” He describes his thesis as being a creation of “a small community of supportive students to meet the call of mental health issues on campus.” This became a mentorship program that paired Marriage and Family graduate students with undergraduate students who struggled with anxious and depressive symptoms. On the effects of this program, he notes that “while decreased symptoms in the students who participated was a part of the hope of the research outcomes, the real aim of the program was to further the work of creating community on campus.”

This fall, Lester will be attending the Counselor Education and Supervision PhD program at North Dakota State University. He hopes to continue his studies and research on aspects of spirituality, specifically focusing on how it is expressed at the level of community, with the hope of transforming his research into a practice that can be taught to students in Marriage and Family Therapy programs. His ultimate goal is to have Marriage and Family Therapy students leave “their programs with the belief that psychotherapy is more than symptom reduction, but an opportunity for moral revelation and poetic storytelling.”

Lester expresses a deep gratitude towards the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program, saying the following: “I do not want to leave Northern California, my home, my family. This is often how adventures begin—with not wanting to leave and feeling imperiously called to do so all the same. The CDIP is more than a generous loan; it is a vote of confidence and belief that supplants the worry and dread of moving far away to somewhere cold.” He concludes by expressing his hopes to repay the program with “more than the money it lends, but with civic excellence and academic stewardship.”

Established in 1987, the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program offers loans and mentorships by CSU faculty in an effort to increase the number of doctoral students applying for future CSU instructional faculty positions. These loans may be offered per year over a five year period, and are repayable over a fifteen-year period beginning one year after the completion or withdrawal from full-time doctoral studies. The loans are also forgivable at the rate of twenty percent for each year of full-time postdoctoral teaching employment within the CSU system or at the rate of ten percent for each year of part-time postdoctoral teaching employment within the CSU system. As of June 2015, over 2,000 doctoral students participated in this program with over 1,200 participants successfully earning their doctoral degrees; over seven hundred of these students have went on to obtain employment in a California State University instructional faculty position.