Cherise Chancellor is a natural creative. The senior and psychology major has been drawing and playing guitar long before she got to Brooklyn College. Today, as a Tow Mentorship Initiative mentee and a mental health advocate, she is using her creativity to make meaningful contributions to the psychology field.

In 2023, Chancellor finished an independent study and research assistantship with her mentor, Associate Professor Jennifer Drake. Soon after, she presented her findings on the effects of music and art on emotional regulation at the Tow Mentorship Initiative Research Conference. The research process deepened her understanding of human behavior, mindfulness, and art therapy. Paired with her psychology classes, being a mentee has made her feel confident as she takes her first steps into the mental health counseling world.

We sat down to talk with Chancellor to hear more about her plans to create a more compassionate future.

Why did you choose to become a psychology major?

I came to Brooklyn College because of the small class sizes. At first, I was a biology major, but after I took classes in introductory psychology and abnormal psychology, I realized that it was what I wanted to study. It’s exciting, and I already had a passion for mental health advocacy and bringing awareness to stigmas in the Black and Caribbean communities surrounding mental health issues and therapy. I also minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. I want to use what I’ve learned in my time here and my experience as a woman from a minority background to be a good mental health counselor.

What inspired you to want to be a mental health counselor?

We need more Black women in the mental health field. I also know about the stigmas of going to therapy and discussing mental health issues in the Black and Caribbean communities, so I want to work toward helping people deal with that so they can heal. I see that awareness has been increasing in the Caribbean and Caribbean-American communities. By the time I become a professional after I go to graduate school, I hope that even more people in my community are open to going to therapy.

Do you consider yourself a mental health activist?

Yeah, I do. I like to educate people whenever I can, like about the effects of mental health stigmas and other issues in the world. I’m also involved in progressive leftist politics, so I go to rallies or post on social media about systematic racism, misogyny, climate change, and other things I’m passionate about bringing awareness to.

How was the Tow Mentorship Initiative research experience? 

I got to study something I’m interested in with Professor Drake, who has experience in art therapy research. I learned a lot from her, and she was very flexible with when and how I did my work. I’ve drawn since middle school and I’ve played guitar since high school, so I believe that art and music can help people cope with stress. I like the people side of research because I want to learn about their experiences. It also helped me with my public speaking skills because I got to present my initial findings.

You’re a few months from graduating! How would you describe your time at Brooklyn College?

I learned a lot and had great support. I was part of CSTEP, a career readiness program on campus, which was very helpful. My adviser told me that I should go into research. I didn’t think it would be a fit at first, but he turned out to be right. I learned a lot and got to expand my skills and passions at the same time. I feel excited about graduate school.

Besides music, activism, and art, how do you spend your free time?

I like to play Zelda on my Nintendo Switch. I go to the gym because I’m very into fitness. I’ve also spent a lot of time lately applying to mental health counseling graduate programs!