Degree In Sight

Statue of a gun with a knotted barrel

Psychology graduate students elected four new officers of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) in April. The new officers will join the four incumbent officers in voicing students' experiences and concerns to APA and other psychology groups. The APAGS Committee also recently appointed three students to head its subcommittees, joining one incumbent subcommittee chair. All officers serve two-year terms, except for the APAGS chair and chair-elect, who serve for three years total.

The APAGS leaders represent student interests at meetings of the APA Board of Directors, APA Council of Representatives and Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), among other groups. Officers also plan student-focused APA Annual Convention sessions, develop ideas for resources and other materials for APAGS members and advocate for student-friendly legislation.

Kristi Sands Van Sickle, PsyD, APAGS chair

Program: Clinical psychology, Florida Institute of Technology


Van Sickle will serve as APAGS chair this year and as past-chair in the 2007-2008 academic year. She recently completed a clinical internship with the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tampa, Fla., and will stay on in 2006-2007 as a polytrauma psychology postdoctoral fellow working with soldiers injured in the Iraq War and their families.

As chair, she plans three foci:

  • Professional-personal balance. She will advocate for initiatives to help students juggle their many academic responsibilities and emotionally and financially support their families. For example, she supports APA's recent policy change that calls for licensure upon degree completion (see page 14) and also increasing the number of quality part-time internships. Another goal will be to develop self-care resources for psychology students and to encourage them to advocate within their departments for policies and practices that allow for student self-care.

Membership. Van Sickle aims to increase membership by spreading the word about the benefits of APAGS. "Our ability to effectively advocate for students and the resources that we have to develop new programs are both directly tied to the size of our membership," she explains.

  • Diversity. She aims for APAGS to continue to develop student resources and leaders representing all aspects of diversity, including "traditional" factors like race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation as well as program type, specialty and degree type.

Van Sickle previously served as a state and regional advocacy coordinator for the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team (ACT) and as an APAGS campus representative. Before entering graduate school, she earned a master's degree in taxation and spent eight years working as a certified public accountant.

Nadia Hasan, APAGS chair-elect

Program: Counseling psychology, University of Akron


Hasan will serve as chair-elect this academic year, APAGS chair in 2007-2008 and as past-chair the following year. She plans to focus on educating students about pressing issues in the field; to advocate for student interests on such issues as licensure requirements, internship availability and research funding; and to promote diversity in APAGS. A fourth-year student, she recently completed two years as chair of the APAGS Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs and is chair of the APAGS International Student Resource Project. She is also the student representative to the Historian Committee of APA's Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues). At Akron, Hasan has begun a practicum experience at the university's counseling center and is continuing an assistantship at the Archives of the History of American Psychology, for which she helps catalog records and co-teaches an undergraduate course on psychology history. She earned a master's degree in psychology in 2005. Hasan encourages students to contact her with their thoughts and concerns about psychology education and training. Her Web site is at

Michael Madson, PhD, APAGS past-chair

Program: Counseling psychology, Marquette University


As past-chair, Madson advises the APAGS Committee in its many activities. He graduated from Marquette University in August 2005 and is an assistant counseling psychology professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he trains students in counseling, substance abuse treatment and consultation. In his first year as a faculty member, he won the University of Southern Miss Junior Faculty Research Award; his research interests include training and supervision, motivational interviewing and implementing evidence-based practice in community settings. Before the APAGS committee appointed him as chair, Madson served as the member-at-large for education and was on the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team (ACT). Madson's priorities for APAGS include welcoming science student members, enhancing APAGS's structure so that its leaders can better collaborate, increasing diversity in all its forms, and addressing internship supply and demand.

Candice Conner, APAGS member-at-large (communications)

Program: Clinical psychology, Argosy University/Dallas


Conner helps organize the APAGS Campus Bulletin newsletter and markets APAGS programs and services. She served as an APAGS campus representative for the Argosy/Dallas campus before being elected last year. This year, her focus will be on continuing to build the APAGS Division Student Representative Network (DSRN), which aims to create connections with each of APA's 54 divisions through student representatives. She hopes the initiative will raise students' awareness that many APA divisions offer student awards, mentoring programs and other benefits and that it will increase divisions' communication with and consideration of students. Conner encourages students to visit DSRN to learn more about the DSRN and About Divisions for more on APA's divisions. She is a fourth-year PsyD student who works full time as a school-based counselor for troubled adolescents. She is on practicum at the Galaxy Counseling Center, a culturally diverse, nonprofit community agency. Conner holds a master's degree in counseling, which she earned while teaching high school social studies for four years.

Karen Kersting, APAGS member-at-large (membership recruitment and retention)

Program: Counseling and student personnel psychology, University of Minnesota


Kersting, a second-year master's student in the University of Minnesota School of Education, aims to attract APAGS members by reaching psychology students early in their academic careers. In her first year on the APAGS committee, she plans to boost the APAGS Campus Representatives program in all types of psychology departments.

Before becoming a psychology student, Kersting spent five years as a journalist and writer, holding positions at the financial news service Bloomberg, the National Geographic Channel and APA's Monitor on Psychology and gradPSYCH. Kersting says her time at APA helped her make the transition from journalism to psychology, and in her APAGS position she hopes to spread the word to other students about the benefits of APA and APAGS membership. She is on practicum at Chrysalis, a Minneapolis community women's center, and plans to apply to a counseling psychology PhD program next year.

Julie Jenks Kettmann, APAGS member-at-large (education)

Program: Counseling psychology, University of Iowa


Jenks Kettmann is a fifth-year student on internship at the University of Iowa's University Counseling Service. She is serving in her second year as member-at-large for education and advocates for student interests at all levels of education-from training to internship to postdoc-with such groups as APPIC and the Council of Chairs of Training Councils. She encourages students to provide her with feedback on their experiences-especially on the internship process. In the coming year, she hopes to help students reach out to their state psychological associations to advocate for legislative changes that would de-link the postdoctoral experience from licensure (see page 14).

Jenks Kettmann previously spent three years as a campus representative and state and regional coordinator with APAGS ACT. She also served on the executive council of the Iowa Psychological Association. She plans to pursue a career in academia and private practice.

Amina Mahmood, APAGS member-at-large (diversity)

Program: Counseling psychology, University of Iowa


In her first year as an APAGS Committee member, Mahmood plans to ensure that every APAGS initiative takes diversity issues into account, and she defines that scope broadly-including traditional diversity areas as well as students from all types of psychology programs, students who are parents and other groups. Mahmood encourages students to contact her with ideas about how APAGS can better serve its diverse students. For example, she plans to explore developing APAGS resources-like the recently released APAGS Resource Guide for LGBT Students in Psychology-for additional student groups. She previously served as an APAGS campus representative and state advocacy coordinator and is a member of the Iowa Psychological Association's Diversity Committee. A Pakistani-American, Mahmood circled the globe during her childhood, living in Saudi Arabia, Italy, England, Australia, Pakistan and upstate New York before moving to Iowa for graduate school. She recently has completed practicum experiences in Iowa City at a homeless shelter and the Women's Resource and Action Center. She plans to seek a career fostering mental health systems in developing countries.

Benjamin Miller, APAGS member-at-large (practice)

Program: Clinical psychology, Spalding University


Miller is a fifth-year PsyD student on internship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where he focuses on primary-care psychology. Previously, he worked part-time at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Ky., providing psychological services to cancer patients. In his first year as the member-at-large for practice, he plans to meld two of his personal passions: advocacy for the field of psychology and raising awareness of integrated health psychology opportunities for practitioners. Specifically, he hopes to continue to increase student-relevant content on the APA Practice Organization's Web site and increase student awareness of how state and federal policies shape psychology practice. Prior to his election, Miller served as an APAGS campus representative and as an APAGS ACT state and regional advocacy coordinator. He plans to pursue a health-psychology career in a cancer center or medical school and stay active in psychology advocacy.

Dawn Brock, chair, APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team

Program: Clinical psychology, Antioch New England Graduate School


Brock holds a master's degree in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and is a fourth-year clinical psychology student at Antioch New England Graduate School. As ACT chair, Brock helps coordinate APA and APAGS efforts to educate students about psychology- and student-relevant legislative issues and also helps students contact their elected officials regarding these issues. She encourages students to visit APA ACT Advocacy or to e-mail her to learn about how they can contribute to psychology advocacy. In her first year as chair, she plans to enhance collaboration between ACT and other APAGS groups. She has previously served as an APAGS campus representative and ACT state and regional advocacy coordinator.

Brock is on practicum at a community mental health center, where she works with couples. As a master's student, she worked with police, firefighters and emergency medical workers after the Sept. 11 attacks. She hopes to land a military internship in 2007 and to someday work with government employees in high-risk jobs, such as at the FBI and CIA, and their families.

Rachel N. Casas, chair, Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs

Program: Clinical psychology, University of Iowa


A third-year student in Iowa's clinical psychology neuropsychology subtrack, Casas studies both clinical psy-chology and cognitive neuroscience. Her research, based out of the neurology department, has focused on whether neuropsychological tests accurately predict cognitive function in ethnic-minority groups. This year, she plans to shift to examining which parts of the brain allow bilingual speakers to switch between languages. She also conducts assessments and is beginning to conduct therapy through thepsychology department's clinic. Casas will bring her blend of science and practice to her role as chair of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. For example, she hopes to build a listing of fellowships and research training opportunities for ethnic-minority students. She also plans to expand the committee's peer mentoring program, which pairs beginning ethnic-minority psychology students with upper-level student mentors. The program's pilot year recently ended, and Casas will help launch a national version during her term (visit APA apags to apply). Casas also plans to continue supporting the committee's ethnic-minority graduate student listserv, which links ethnic-minority psychology student groups across the country.

Marina Field, chair, APAGS Convention Committee

Program: Social and organizational psychology, Columbia University


Field chairs the team of students who select the programs APAGS sponsors each year at APA's Annual Convention. For the 2007 convention, Field hopes to continue an emphasis of the recent New Orleans meeting: events that allow students to meet, socialize and relax. For example, New Orleans attendees mingled at an APAGS social hour and APAGS-sponsored "Food Crawl," and also took yoga breaks between sessions. Before becoming chair in 2005, Field served as a Convention Committee member for two years. She is a fourth-year student in the Teachers College at Columbia and recently completed corporate internships at American Express and Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization for women in business. This fall, she plans to start her dissertation on gender issues in the workplace. Field encourages students to submit programming proposals for the 2007 convention (see "Students: Present at the 2007 APA Convention" for more information).

Michelle Vaughan, chair, Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Concerns

Program: Counseling psychology, University of Akron


Vaughan leads the APAGS committee responsible for advo-cating for LGBT students. The committee supports various LGBT student programs at convention and provides feedback on relevant APA and APAGS proposals. It recently released the APAGS Resource Guide for LGBT Students in Psychology (see LGBT Guide) and is seeking ways to contribute to a mentoring program for LGBT students or a guide to LGBT student-friendly programs.

Vaughan recently completed an internship at Towson University's Counseling Center, where she conducted individual and group counseling and also specialized in assisting LGBT students. She plans to graduate later this year after completing her dissertation on growth experiences associated with coming out as lesbian or gay. She plans to pursue a career in higher education where she can counsel or support LGBT students. Before becoming chair this year, Vaughan served as a LGBT committee member for two years and has been active in campus and community LGBT organizations.

A special election was held this summer for the APAGS member-at-large for science position, but the result was not available at gradPSYCH press time. Look for information on the election in the November issue or on the APAGS Web site at APA apags.