WEST LAFAYETTE — Growing up in Colombia the daughter of a woman passionate about learning English and an army officer father, Marjorie Ramos-Salcedo witnessed firsthand the agony – mental as much as physical – of war.
It led her to study English and psychology and become an officer of the Colombian Navy, supporting the mental health of the men and women who were risking their lives, minds, families and health to protect their homeland.
“I contributed by applying the science of psychology and working in programs to prevent mental illness such as addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Ramos-Salcedo, a Purdue University Global graduate student. “Sometimes I was the only psychologist (as regarded in Colombian culture) in an entire region, and I was also taking care of the mental health of the civilians living in those regions. I worked for the navy for more than 10 years with passion and vocation and with the highest standards for my best practice in psychology.”
In 2018, Ramos-Salcedo retired from the navy and a year later decided to pursue a master’s degree in psychology. She chose Purdue Global, a decision she described as “one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.”
To complement her academics, Ramos-Salcedo joined Purdue Global’s chapter of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. Now, she is the recipient of a Psi Chi graduate scholarship based on her Psi Chi activity, personal qualities consistent with Psi Chi’s mission, financial need and academic excellence.
Psi Chi was founded in 1929 with a mission to encourage excellence in scholarship and advance the science of psychology.
“I used to feel so isolated as a psychologist and with little support,” Ramos-Salcedo said. “Building a community of psychologists has been a great gain for me.”
Ramos-Salcedo has been active on the executive board of Purdue Global’s Psi Chi chapter, currently serving as president. She has collaborated with the charitable chair to manage chapter fundraisers that have made donations to Wounded Warriors, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Autism Speaks, the Child Mind Institute, The Trevor Project and Alcoholics Anonymous.
Ramos-Salcedo also organizes events and guest speakers, chairs the newsletter committee and contributes to social media undertakings. Previously, she served as chapter treasurer.
“Being part of the executive board has been a learning experience for me and an opportunity to develop another type of leadership – taught by Dr. Gabrielle Blackman and supported by the spirit of the PG Psi Chi executive board – than the one I learned as an officer in the navy,” Ramos-Salcedo said. “It is very difficult to give orders that people have to follow, whether they like it or not in the military life, and to convince people to work as volunteers as a learning experience and also to contribute to the science of psychology.
“I like the idea that Psi Chi is international because I definitely feel that I am included in something that is bigger than me. My opinions are heard no matter that I am a woman, I am Latin, I live in Colombia, no matter my color. I have felt tremendous support even though English is not my first language.”
Psi Chi graduate scholarships help defray the direct educational costs of Psi Chi students attending graduate school. Ramos-Salcedo is one of 12 recipients for 2021-22.
“I can always count on Marjorie to take the initiative and bring opportunities to our chapter and members,” said Gabrielle Blackman, a member of the Purdue Global College of Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty and the faculty advisor for Psi Chi. “She is a true leader and role model. It is great to see Marjorie’s hard work, leadership and success recognized by Psi Chi.”
Ramos-Salcedo, who runs a small private practice in Colombia, is completing her practicum at Pathways Mental Health Services, an outpatient clinic based in Washington.
“I have experience working with diverse populations with different cultural backgrounds than mine,” Ramos-Salcedo said. “I like to find the common factors that we have, including being human, gender factors if it is the case, biology, brain structure. I try to learn more about their own cultural situations, which are definitely different than mine.”