Psychology alumna creates scholarship to honor mentor’s late son, further research in suicide prevention

Itsumi Kakefuda

Itsumi Kakefuda, who graduated from Colorado State University with a Ph.D. in psychology in 2008, now living and working in her home country of Japan, has created the Dr. Lorann Stallones and Byler Scholarship in Psychology.

Kakefuda named the scholarship after her mentor while she was a student at CSU: Lorann Stallones, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the director of the Colorado Injury Control Research Center. She also named the scholarship after Stallones’ son, Byler, who died by suicide over 10 years ago.

The scholarship is open to graduate students enrolled in the Department of Psychology who are engaged in research and education on suicide prevention, especially in youths. The scholarship is open and anyone can donate if they wish to.

A focus on suicide prevention

“When Itsumi was a student we used to have her over for Thanksgiving with the family, so she got to know Byler very well,” said Stallones. “He, too, was a scholar.”

Itsumi Kakefuda, center, Dr. Stallones, right.

While Kakefuda and Byler only met a few times, they had a strong relationship. “I just miss him so much,” said Kakefuda. “I believe that he would have become the very important part of the world. Yes, he is the very important part of the world in my mind. There are many things I do and I tell in my current work because of Byler.”

“Suicide prevention must be addressed more in any society and research world,” she said. “… I hope that this scholarship helps a bit to get CSU students interested in the research and practice, which will save one precious life at a time.”

Kakefuda signed the papers to approve the scholarship on Byler’s birthday, and “it was one of the best presents I’ve ever received,” said Stallones. “It is a profound honor.”

“I think he never knew the impact he had on the people who loved him and cared about him,” said Stallones. “Some of his friends put together a memorial service for him and the number of people who showed up, from the person who delivered pizza to his faculty and friends, was astounding. It just goes to show people don’t always know who they’ve impacted.”

A strong bond

Stallones is very grateful to Kakefuda for the scholarship, and for their time together. “She was an amazing student. We worked very closely together and we have a strong bond,” she said. “She looks to me as a mentor; I think she’s brilliant. I think she mentored me on as many things as I mentored her on. She’s just a deep scholar and was a joy to have as a graduate student.”

Kakefuda also gushes about Stallones: “The best thing I have ever learnt from her is: Work with and for people in the real world.” With the Dr. Lorann Stallones and Byler Scholarship she is hoping to continue that mission.