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About us

EPPP Mission Statement

Our mission is to enhance each participant's ability to work competently and effectively with culturally and linguistically diverse children, youth, and families in multicultural settings.


The need for psychologists, educators, and mental health professionals who are knowledgeable of Spanish and Latinx cultures are large and are not being met with existing personnel within our school or mental health systems.


Thus, EPPP offers participants an opportunity to:

  • Broaden their view of the world,

  • Increase their ability to communicate with linguistically and culturally diverse populations, 

  • Develop and enhance their openness to new ideas,

  • Strengthen their dedication to lifelong learning,

  • Bolster their ability to adapt to different cultures in an effective and competent manner,

  • Lead to further personal growth,

  • Expand their professional skill set, 

  • Raise their appreciation of cultural differences,

  • Foster their ability to self-reflect, and

  • Improve their ability to handle unforeseeable situations with a greater level of maturity and independence. 

The skills, attitude, knowledge, and strategies gained from the EPPP will not only assist participants during the international experience, but also assist the diverse students, families and communities that they will serve upon their return home.

Meet The Program directors
Dr. Anton Robert Berzins

Anton Robert Berzins, Psy.D., N.C.S.P., Co-Founder and Director for EcuadorPPP, obtained his psychology and history (double major) undergraduate degree from Loyola College in Maryland, masters degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and doctoral degree (bilingual track) from St. John's University.

He is a full time, tenured school psychologist within the Great Neck Public School system in Great Neck, New York. In this role, he serves as the Case Manager to the Academic Career Exploration (A.C.E.) and Transition programs which are comprised of students with significant physical, and developmental disabilities. Additionally, he serves as the Case Manager to the English as a Second Language (E.S.L.) program, which is comprised of students from the Middle East, South America, Central America, Europe, and Asia.

For over the past decade, Dr. Berzins has spent his summer's working with a variety of schools, hospitals, clinics, community outreach centers, and orphanages in both Costa Rica and Ecuador. Furthermore, he has presented at district-level and national conferences. He has had articles, book reviews, and book chapters published in national psychology journals. His research interests include: school-sports psychology; resiliency; affect (positive and negative); exposure to violence (physical, verbal, sexual); post traumatic stress disorder; gratitude; positive psychology; and multicultural issues in psychology.

Dr. Tara C. Raines

Tara Raines, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Program Coordinator, is an Assistant Professor in the Child, Family, and School Psychology program within the Department of Teaching and Learning Sciences at the University of Denver. Dr. Raines is a former Lincy Assistant Professor in the School Psychology program within the Department of Educational Psychology and Higher Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Raines received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Special Education from Florida State University. She subsequently earned her M.A.  and specialist degrees in School Psychology from Nova Southeastern University and ultimately obtained her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Georgia State University. 


Dr. Raines was a former bilingual school psychologist in Georgia, recently completed a pre-doctoral internship in Child and Pediatric Psychology at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). She provided mental health treatment and consultations for children in the craniofacial, nephrology, rheumatology, and chronic pain clinics at CHLA.  


As a researcher, she has worked for the past 5 years on an Institute of Education Sciences grant focusing on establishing the validity and utility of universal screening for behavioral and emotional risk within the Los Angeles Unified School District and multiple school districts in Georgia. She is currently exploring the relationships between special education referral patterns and student self report of behavioral and emotional risk. Dr. Raines is dedicated to the importance of providing culturally competent therapy and increasing the rate of bilingual clinicians.


In 2008, Dr. Raines developed the Ecuador Professional Preparation Program, a cultural immersion program for mental health and education professionals, to promote cultural competence and Spanish language proficiency. She is presently the on-site director for the program. Dr. Raines’ other research interests include the use of universal screening to reduce disproportionality in special education placement, assessing for behavioral and emotional risk, culturally appropriate assessment for behavioral and emotional disorders, and promoting cultural competence among psychology professionals.

Join us

If you, a colleague, or a graduate student in the fields of education or psychology would like to acquire or reacquire knowledge of or fluency in the Spanish language, become confident in using Spanish professionally, acquire knowledge of a Latinx culture, and work in either a clinical facility or educational setting, then we believe that our summer cultural immersion programs may be of interest to you.

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