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Palo Alto University Class of 2024 Meets Crucial Demand for Mental Health Professionals

Palo Alto, CA - Palo Alto University, a leader in psychology and counseling education, will celebrate 295 doctoral, master's, and bachelor's students at its commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the Santa Clara County Convention Center.

"Our Class of 2024 graduates enter the workforce at a pivotal time when mental health support is more vital than ever," said President Maureen O'Connor. "With comprehensive training spanning clinical practice and research, our new alumni are prepared to address society's mental health needs."

The U.S. faces a critical shortage of mental health professionals. The American Psychological Association predicts demand for psychologists will grow 27% by 2030, outpacing workforce growth. Similar shortages exist for mental health counselors and therapists. In California, research by UCSF shows a projected 11% shortage of psychologists, therapists, and counselors by 2028 compared to demand.

"Mental health is a top priority across all demographics as we grasp the toll of issues like the pandemic, social injustice, and economic strains," said Provost Erika Cameron, PhD. "Palo Alto University equips graduates to provide culturally competent care tailored to our diverse communities."

This year's commencement speaker, Maryam Jernigan-Noesi, PhD, embodies this mission through her pioneering work promoting racial justice, culturally responsive practices, and equitable systems change. Dr. Jernigan-Noesi brings a wealth of expertise and passion to the podium. Over two decades, Dr. Jernigan-Noesi has served as faculty, and provided consulting services, specializing in assessment, planning, and professional development through a lens of racial equity and cultural responsiveness.

"We're honored to have Dr. Jernigan-Noesi inspire our graduates," said Provost Cameron. "Her advocacy underscores the vital role mental health professionals play in lifting up underserved populations."

Commencement will include the traditional procession of graduates, faculty, and university leadership, special remarks from our commencement speaker, the hooding of doctoral students, and the symbolic turning of tassels. Family and friends will gather to celebrate the dedication, hard work, and bright futures of Palo Alto University's Class of 2024. For more details on the ceremony, please visit:

About Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University (PAU), a private, non-profit university located in the heart of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, is dedicated to addressing pressing and emerging issues in the fields of psychology and counseling that equitably meet the needs of today’s diverse society. PAU offers undergraduate and graduate programs that are led by faculty who make significant contributions to their field. Online, hybrid and residential program options are available. PAU's Continuing and Professional Studies Division offers a wide range of continuing education and professional development programming on mental health topics.  

PAU was founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and re-incorporated as Palo Alto University in August 2009. PAU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  PAU’s doctoral programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and its master’s in counseling programs by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).