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Intern Spotlight: Bernice Lopez

Bernice O. López, a first-generation Latina graduate student and Los Angeles native, is currently a second year student in the Master of Social Welfare program at UCLA with an area of concentration in social and economic justice. As a student in the MSW program, Bernice is acquiring a scholarly foundation to examine structural and institutional systems of oppression and fieldwork experience. Bernice’s previous internship with LA County Department of Mental Health at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center-where she worked with community members living with severe mental illness- exposed her to the interconnectedness between mass incarceration and the necessity to advocate for more equitable and accessible public mental health services. Bernice has witnessed the effects of the revolving door syndrome as community members living with a severe mental illness experience frequent psychiatric hospitalizations, incarceration, and are faced with additional challenges such as houselessness and/ or substance use. Ultimately, Bernice aspires to devise and implement evidence-based interventions into our criminal legal system to inform equitable policies to reduce recidivism rates, end mass incarceration, and eradicate houselessness in her native community of Los Ángeles.