Bio – Dr Lesther Papa

Dr. Lesther Papa

photo of Lesther Pap


Assistant professor of psychology at San José State University’s (SJSU) Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

Dr. Lesther A. Papa (He/Him/Siya/Esuna) is an assistant professor of psychology at San José State University’s (SJSU) Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. He was born and raised on the westside of the island of Kauai to immigrant Filipinx parents. As an undergraduate at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa (UHM), he was actively involved with the Filipino language program and organization, Katipunan. He participated in a Fulbright-Hays program (Advance Filipino Abroad Program) to learn Filipino language and literature after graduating from UHM and received a Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University before heading to Utah State University (USU) to pursue a doctoral degree. The combined clinical/counseling/school psychology program at USU provided excellent training in providing mental health services to diverse populations. In addition, Dr. Papa has participated and facilitated workshops and presentations on multiculturalism, cultural competence, and allyship ( at USU, which has also informed his clinical practice.

He completed his predoctoral internship in clinical psychology at the University of California – San Francisco’s (UCSF) Multicultural Clinical Training Program where he was trained in trauma-informed mental health treatment for youth and their families. He was also a postdoc at UCSF providing trauma-informed mental healthcare in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic before starting at SJSU. Dr. Papa now uses his clinical expertise to provide consultation to students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

Dr. Papa’s research focuses on the experiences of minoritized people in the form of microaggressions and examines racial/ethnic microaggression detection in higher education, misgendering of trans/non-binary individuals, colorism within the Filipinx community, and intersectional microaggressions toward queer/trans Black, Indigenous, people of color (QTBIPOC). His lab also focuses on training students who have minoritized identities as well and together they focus on making a difference in the lives of minoritized people. He has also come full circle and is now the faculty advisor for SJSU’s Filipinx organization, Akbayan, and Pilipinx Graduation, which recognizes and celebrates graduates for their baccalaureate achievement.

When Dr. Papa is not teaching or engaged in research, he often spends time sipping, strolling, and shopping, spending time with his community, and gaming.