Silver Taps: Kirsten Allison Salerno
Role model dedicated her work to help veterans
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 01:03
Friends and family remember Kirsten Allison Salerno as a woman whose passion, enthusiasm and commitment came from serving veterans and improving their well-being.
“The kind of work that Kirsten did was profound in the truest sense of the word, and it may best be exemplified by the words of one of her long-term patients when she said to me, ‘Kirsten saved my life,’” said Jerry Gonzales, a friend, classmate and co-worker of Kirsten.
Kirsten, counseling psychology doctoral student, was a woman dedicated to helping veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder. Salerno obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Malta and then proceeded to complete her Masters degree in counseling psychology from the University of North Florida before arriving in College Station.
Gonzalez described Salerno as a woman who made a profound difference in the lives of her patients.
“She was highly respected and considered a role model by her peers because she was very well-rounded as a psychologist trainee and outstanding as a student,” Gonzales said. “She had unlimited potential because she was gifted as a clinician, researcher and supervisor, but was humble and grounded in her Christian faith.”
Andrew Cook, director of training for the Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System in Temple, Texas, oversaw Kirsten’s training during her time from 2011-2012 serving as a student trainee in the Substance Abuse Treatment Program in the Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine division when she first expressed interest. He said she had applied for the pre-doctoral internship within the last six months and could have potentially been one of six interns for the system.
Linda Castillo, professor and training director of the counseling psychology program at A&M, supervised Kirsten’s clinical work when she first began the A&M counseling psychology doctoral program. Castillo said it came as no surprise when opportunities were presented to Kirsten.
“I've watched her grow to be an excellent therapist so it was no surprise that she was offered numerous interviews for internship, which all psychology doctoral students training to be psychologists are required to do,” Castillo said.
Kirsten’s husband Stefano Salerno — head coach of the men’s soccer team at A&M Consolidated High School — saw immediate support from students and parents of A&M Consolidated when they found out about Kirsten’s death as they quickly organized and showed support.
The community fundraised money, food donations and airline miles to help Stefano and Kirsten’s family make the trip from Malta to College Station. Both families lived in Malta, and to ensure that as many family members as possible were able to make the trip, two local soccer clubs also sold bracelets in memory of Kirsten for $5 each.
In honor of Kirsten’s life and time served at the Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System, colleagues from the system set up a memorial fund bearing her name.
“We set up a memorial fund focused on psychology training and it’s dedicated for training of future psychology students,” Cook said.
Gonzales said Kirsten cared for and made an impact on the people she met.
“Kirsten is a role model and inspiration to all who knew her,” Gonzales said. “She will be dearly missed, and always remembered.”