President's Column

At the APA Practice Leadership Conference in March, a state psychological association president mentioned he was thankful for both meeting and getting to know me in that he had never met a prior APA president.

His comments made me realize that many other APA members do not know anything about me. So, let me highlight some interesting aspects about who I am professionally.

I was born in Cuba. When I was 8, my parents, brother and I immigrated to Miami with $300 and lived in a one-bedroom apartment with 10 people. I learned English by "immersion" and ate what the refugee center provided. Eventually, we relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, where I was educated in Catholic schools and later a community college. In 1972, I walked into the University of Florida and enrolled at the last minute in a psychology course: Don Dewsbury's class. This eminent animal behaviorist and historian of psychology also gave me an opportunity to do research in his lab.

Subsequently, I was accepted at the University of Georgia. I pursued simultaneously a clinical (master's) and a PhD in biopsychology, forging what I envisioned was clinical neuropsychology. The first year was beyond challenging and I received a vote of no confidence from the faculty due to my "nonproficient use of the English language." With the help of an advisor, Lee Peacock, I was able to continue, and I defended my MA and my doctorate in 1978. I started teaching neuroanatomy at St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. But when the Cuban government invaded the island later that year, I returned to the United States and I worked as a clinical psychologist at Northeast Florida State Hospital. I then secured a tenure-track position at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I have been a fortunate person. In turn, it is my time to give back since so many have given to me.

Today, I teach two courses a semester, and I have a lab with undergraduates to postdoctoral fellows. In addition, I have a private practice limited to clinical neuropsychology and on Wednesdays our lab runs a mental health clinic for disadvantaged people. Health-care policy has been central to my career, with a primary focus on the Current Procedural Terminology Codes Panel of the AMA (and CMS).

Want more information? Here are some websites:

Now that you know more about me, let me know something about you. Say "hola" when our paths cross. If you have something you would like to share, let me know. Until then, thank you for getting to know me.