Graduate students are the heart and soul of the APA and the future of psychology. It is important to be aware of-and celebrate-the ways our experiences as psychologists-in-training will influence the direction of the field. Each graduate student has a special story to tell about how they became interested in psychology and about their journeys to become psychologists (see "Getting what they need"). These stories are important because they serve as maps that will help us determine the trajectory of the field. As I think back on my own education, I realize that I have always been interested in the subject matter of psychology. My knowledge of psychology and my commitment for a career using psychological principles grew after taking a high school psychology course. However, the road to becoming a psychologist looked long, expensive and unattainable. Part of this perception came from doing research about psychology careers, and part of it came from my upbringing. I was raised in a family and culture that did not value psychology or people who pursued careers in psychology. Fortunately, during my undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, I met two excellent undergraduate psychologist mentors: Carolyn Tucker, PhD, and Bonnie Moradi, PhD. These two psychologists helped me identify and pursue my goal of getting into graduate school in counseling psychology. My early mentoring experiences have meant very much to me, and they laid the foundation for much of my success as a graduate student.
Next, I decided to pursue my doctoral degree at the University of Akron, which is the same university that one of my mentors attended. Much of the course work resembles that of other APA-accredited programs. However, I have had two unique training experiences. My first was the three years I worked as a graduate student intern in the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) at the University of Akron.
AHAP's mission is to promote research in the history of psychology by collecting, cataloguing and preserving psychology's historical record. AHAP contains the papers of many psychologists and the records of several psychology organizations as well as psychology-related films, photos, instruments, apparatus, audiotapes, videotapes, books and tests. This organization was started in 1965, but some of the materials date to the 1800s. My experience at AHAP has taught me a great deal about the science and practice of psychology through the decades. The richness and diversity of the field of psychology continually amazed me. Reading psychologists' personal letters and the reports of organizational issues addressed by psychology organizations gives me great hope for the future of psychology. To learn more about AHAP, visit www3.uakron.edu/ahap.
The other unique experience has been my involvement in APAGS. I have been a student affiliate member of APA since 2001. I got involved in APAGS during my first year of graduate school because I wanted to participate in service work and meet other graduate students who shared my interests. In my second year, I began my term as the APAGS subcommittee chair for the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. After completing my term, I ran for APAGS chair. My experience as an APAGS leader has been amazing, awe-inspiring and educational. I have been able to gain many mentors and educational experiences that I would not have access to otherwise. The best part of serving as an APAGS leader is meeting other graduate students and hearing about their experiences, hopes and dreams.
I have enjoyed sharing my story, and I would like to hear the stories of other graduate students. If you would like to share your story with me, send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!