Quadruple Eagle hopes to offer ‘ripple effect of healing,’ destigmatize mental health issues among underserved communities
When Meisha Edwards (‘14, ‘16, ‘19, ‘21) was 11 years old, she had already made up her mind she wanted to attend Georgia Southern University.
“I attended a math and science camp at Georgia Southern when I was 11, and I recalled visiting the Wildlife Center and making ice cream from liquid nitrogen,” she said. “It was so much fun that I was sold on Southern as my future college destination.”
In fact, the now 29-year-old Augusta, Georgia, native’s True Blue pride runs so deep that she has studied at Georgia Southern for more than a decade on her journey to become a quadruple Eagle.
“Being a quadruple Eagle is honestly the best feeling in the world,” Edwards said. “I’ve received four degrees from one of the best college campuses in Georgia. This last decade at Southern was a huge part of my growth and development, personally and professionally. I don’t regret a single moment.”
Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and two master’s degrees — one in experimental psychology and one in clinical psychology — from the University’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Though she celebrated her graduation this December, she completed her coursework in summer 2021 for a doctorate in clinical psychology. Since then, she has worked at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center to gain hours for her professional license where she works primarily with female veterans.
“My personal motto is to serve the underserved, and veterans are often overlooked once their active service is complete,” Edwards said. “I also love that the VA offers unique experiences from general mental health to specialized clinics.”
Edwards’ areas of interest include understanding the impact of trauma on individuals’ daily lives, and she is passionate about researching factors that impact race relations and how people of color can heal from these experiences.
“As a person of color, I am an avid believer in research and healing starting within the home and in your own community,” she said. “I hope to be a pebble that leads to a ripple effect of healing within my community.”
Through her work, she hopes to inspire the Black community to engage in mental health care.
“My ultimate goal is to work in such a way that individuals from minority and disadvantaged communities come to believe that, one, therapy is a valid, perfectly acceptable form of healing,” she said. “And, two, that the mental health profession becomes a place where these communities feel seen because it is populated with people who look like them and can understand their experiences.”
This goal was reinforced for Edwards recently when she met with a new client.
“I was conducting a screening to see what level of care is needed for a veteran and she immediately began to cry when she saw me,” Edwards said. “When asked what moved her, she said she was grateful to have a doctor who looked like her. It warmed my heart and reminded me that Black minds matter. There are so few people of color in mental health and that is a significant barrier to people being willing to engage with mental health services.”
Edwards also recalled a personal experience as a student that impacted her.
“When I think of one experience that significantly impacted my life while at Southern, I instantly think of a time during my first year in the doctoral program,” Edwards recalled. “On this particular day, I was really struggling with the sociopolitical climate in the country and it showed. I was very emotional and tried to hide it behind sunglasses, but instantly my professors knew.
“I’ve never received so many hugs, texts, or even had space in class to just sit with my professor and classmates to be people, not students,” she continued. “We cried together and were very open that we were all struggling in that moment and it was OK.”
Looking forward, Edwards plans to continue her work professionally with veterans by joining the staff at a VA location in the southeast.