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May 29, 2013 — University of Wyoming student Inga Mileviciute hopes to gain a broad understanding of alcohol use among different populations during a Fulbright U.S. Student internship at Lithuania’s Vilnius University during the 2013-14 academic year.
A doctoral degree student in the UW Department of Psychology, Mileviciute will return to her home country. She immigrated to the United States from Lithuania when she was 11 years old, and grew up in a one-parent household in Chicago. She has had a long-standing commitment to helping immigrants and people of diverse cultures.
“The Fulbright Scholarship will provide me with the opportunity to find out how psychology is regarded in Lithuania and what advances they have made within the field with that specific population,” says Mileviciute, who received a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology in 2012. “It will be interesting to compare and contrast the training that graduate students receive in the clinical psychology program at Vilnius University. Aside from the educational exchange, I hope to participate in art and music events, and find out more about Lithuania's history.”
The Fulbright experience expands Milviciute’s broad scope of research experience within substance use. While working at the Center for Community Research at Chicago’s DePaul University, she interviewed Latino men terminating substance use treatment. For her master’s thesis at UW, she collected data on alcohol use initiation among American Indian adolescents in South Dakota. She volunteered to work with the South Dakota GEAR UP summer program, working with American Indian youths on the Pine Ridge Reservation as well as other reservations.
Last fall, she conducted research on college students' expectations about alcohol and worked at AWARE (Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research and Education), where she educated college students about alcohol use and provided them with harm-reduction strategies.
“I hope to continue my work and research within the realm of substance use, and this opportunity to conduct research in Lithuania will provide me with an even broader understanding of alcohol use among different populations,” she says.
Her work with alcohol use among American Indians already is gaining attention, says Professor Walter Scott, director of clinical training in the UW Deptment of Psychology. He says Mileviciute is finding that the path to alcohol use in youths differs by gender.
“For American Indian girls, depression appears to have a stronger role in promoting alcohol use whereas, for boys, conduct problems appear to precede the development of alcohol use,” Scott says. "Ultimately, these findings have the potential to inform new treatments that can target this major problem more effectively in Indian country.”
Her work resulted in her receiving an outstanding poster award at the 2010 annual meeting of the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy in San Francisco. Her poster presented a study examining the role of a number of factors that contributed to substance use in a sample of American Indian youth, including self-efficacy, depression, externalizing problems and gender.
As a Fulbright grantee, Mileviciute joins the ranks of distinguished participants who have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes. Since its inception, more than 60 years ago, more than 315,000 individuals have participated in the program founded by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright to increase mutual understanding among the people of the U.S. and the people of the more than 150 countries that currently participate in the Fulbright Program.
UW doctoral degree student Inga Mileviciute received a Fulbright Student Scholarship to conduct research in Lithuania. (UW Photo)