One important aspect of graduate school that does not get enough attention is service through leadership. I would like to share some thoughts regarding the importance of volunteering our time to advance the profession of psychology, especially for us as psychologists in training. To maintain and increase funding for psychology education, practice and research, we'll need strong leaders to advocate on behalf of these issues.
POWER IN NUMBERS
In June, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2007 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored by the American Association of University Women in partnership with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Attending the meeting was truly a wonderful experience, and I learned about many aspects of leadership and myself as a female leader. Some of the conference workshops covered activism as leadership, leadership for a changing world and filling the pipeline: running for office and leadership on campus. These workshops highlighted the skills students need to be effective leaders, as well as the benefits and challenges of leadership. Other workshops focused on campus suicide prevention and rape crisis services.
This conference leads me to reflect on the large network of outstanding leaders in APAGS. I recently counted it up: The APAGS Committee consists of a chair, past chair, chair elect, six members-at-large and four subcommittee chairs. Our subcommittees address issues regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender concerns, ethnic-minority affairs, convention planning and advocacy. Each subcommittee has several members, totaling about 28 additional student leaders. In addition, there are approximately 56 state advocacy leaders and 250 campus representatives on the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team (ACT) subcommittee.
Each member-at-large committee member has a student working group of about two students. APAGS also has five graduate student liaisons to other APA boards and committees, such as the Committee onAccreditation, the Board of Educational Affairs, and the Committee on Dis-ability Issues in Psychology. The APAGS Division Student Representative Network has an additional 35 student leaders who represent APA divisions. APAGS also recruits graduate students to serve as ambassadors during the APA Annual Convention. During the 2007 APA Annual Convention, there were approximately 40 graduate student ambassadors.
The grand total? Approximately 440 graduate students are leading, serving and advocating on behalf of psychology. This is an amazing network of leaders!
These psychology graduate students understand the importance of being involved in leadership activities, service work and advocacy. Each position has unique roles and responsibilities that are matched to a student's particular interest or skill set. Some positions are brief-lasting only a few days--while other positions are a two--year commitment.
APAGS involvement is a great way to gain leadership experience and enhance your advocacy skills. I encourage other graduate students to apply for leadership opportunities within APAGS, APA's divisions, state psychological associations, and other local and program-based psychology organizations. Also consider attending conferences such as the one I described above. They are an important source of professional development and personal growth for students.
By getting involved in leadership and service, graduate students can gain a wealth of knowledge and skills that extend beyond the classroom. I have been involved in APAGS leadership for three years, and through that experience I have grown both personally and professionally. I have gained knowledge of psychology and its diverse specialty areas. My involvement has empowered me to be an active participant in my education and training experiences. I have also found my voice in advocating for the field of psychology and for myself as a person and future psychologist.
Best of all, I have met many wonderful graduate students and psychologists who share my interests and values. I thank all of the graduate students who make up the APAGS network and I encourage other graduate students to consider getting involved.
For more information on getting involved, visit APAGS.