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College of Education Graduate Student Receives Fellowship from The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies

Shanti Pepper received a $5,000 fellowship to research the impact of lesbians and/or gay men on U.S. society and culture.

By Katlyn McGraw (May 2007)

shantipepper.jpg UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – College of Education graduate student Shanti Pepper received a $5,000 fellowship from The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies to research the impact of lesbians and/or gay men on U.S. society and culture.

The Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies supports research by a junior scholar (graduate student, untenured university professor, or independent researcher) and a senior scholar (tenured university professor or advanced independent scholar).

Pepper, a junior scholar, was awarded the fellowship based on her dissertation proposal titled “Exploration of Lesbian Women’s Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Romantic Relationships.”

“I was genuinely surprised, and elated, to receive this fellowship because of its competitiveness,” said Pepper. “It excites me to think that others may find my work interesting, and my hopes are that my research will contribute to a better understanding of lesbian relationships.”

This is not the first funding Pepper has secured as a student. She was also awarded the Graham Robert Endowment Graduate Fellowship and the Frank Conrad Jr. Fellowship. Furthermore, Pepper’s research has been published two times (with two manuscripts under review), and she has presented on her research more than a dozen times at national and regional conferences.

In addition to her research, Pepper works as a mentor in Penn State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Resource Center. She is also a counselor at Penn State’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and served as a consultant at Counseling, Consultation, & Psychotherapy Services (CCPS).

Pepper is pursuing her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology in the Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology, and Rehabilitation Services department in the College of Education. Her dissertation adviser is Kathy Bieschke, and her research focuses on exploring the role of self-efficacy in lesbian relationships. Specifically, she is developing a scale, which measures the four sources of self-efficacy for lesbian women.

Pepper earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado and her M.A. in clinical psychology from Ball State University.