Four officers have joined the quest to make psychology students' voices heard in APA's governance as well as the field at large. From addressing the growing internship crisis to finding new avenues of communication, these leaders want to work with you to address your needs.
"The new committee is incredibly diverse," says APAGS Associate Executive Director Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD. "A majority of the new board members are minority graduate students, two of them are international students, and almost one quarter are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This means APAGS is reflecting the diversity of its membership and offering a pipeline for leaders to enter the field of psychology."
The APAGS Committee represents students' interests at meetings of APA's Board of Educational Affairs, the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, among many other groups. APAGS officers also develop resources for psychology graduate students and advocate for student-friendly legislation.
Rachel Casas, chair
Background: Casas is a sixth-year student in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Iowa, whose previous APAGS experience includes serving as a regional diversity coordinator and chair of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. She's currently on internship at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience, and her research interests include the examination of how cultural factors affect brain functions. Her dissertation is investigating the validity of interpreter-mediated neuropsychological testing in monolingual Spanish speakers.
Goals: As APAGS chair, Casas hopes to include students across all subfields of psychology. One way is by increasing communication between the APAGS Committee and its membership through emerging technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Casas plans to introduce an agenda item for four new research grants for psychology students. She also plans to release a student research guide with tips on how to secure a grant, negotiate authorship and keep your curriculum vitae up to date. Additionally, she'll address the internship imbalance by working with APA's Board of Directors and its Council of Representatives. (More on how APA is addressing the internship imbalance.)
Just for fun: Casas salsa dances and collects historic Florida postcards. "I go to flea markets and state fairs and search for really old postcards that someone may have sent to a friend 50 years ago."
Susan M. Wilson, chair-elect
Background: Wilson is a fourth-year clinical psychology student at Ohio University. Her research seeks to uncover the factors that predict whether women react to sexual assault in assertive or less forceful ways, she says. In the future she hopes to extend her research to examine victimization within the LGBT community. Her advocacy work has included helping graduate students with an annual spring workshop that includes speakers on issues such as practice, primary care and advocacy—a project she shepherded as the chair of the Ohio Psychological Association of Graduate Students. "Student leadership and advocacy work really lit a fire under me, and I'm glad to have the chance to work on the national stage," she says.
Goals: Wilson will work with state and local psychological organizations to encourage the creation of more internships—the biggest problem currently facing students, she says. She will also harness such technologies as Facebook and Twitter to keep graduate students in touch with one another, potential mentors and other psychologists.
In her spare time: Wilson is a classically trained trumpet player who performs for her church several times a year. She also enjoys hiking with her dog.
Kimberly Smith, member-at-large, education
Background: Smith, a second-year clinical neuropsychology doctoral student at Pepperdine University, studies the role of culture in the expression, diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the central nervous system. She has served on APAGS's Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs for the past year, and she believes her experience as a single graduate student for three years and then a wife, mother and graduate student for the second half of grad school allows her to represent a broad range of students.
Goals: Like her fellow committee members, Smith is also pushing for increased access to internships. To this end, she'll work to create convention symposia that will help students learn about lesser-known internships and connect with mentors. By helping students meet mentors as well as advocate for themselves, Smith hopes to empower APAGS members to take control of their own academic destiny. "It is called intellectual entrepreneurship—embracing the role as a student, but also as a professional, early on in your career," she says."
A fighting spirit: Smith is a purple belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art that uses integrative techniques including kicks and hand strikes as well as close combat maneuvers, such as joint locks and throws to disable opponents.
M. Cristina Cruza-Guet, member-at-large, communication
Background: Cruza-Guet is a sixth-year doctoral candidate at Lehigh University, working on a dissertation that examines the longitudinal relationship between social support and psychological distress among older Hispanic adults in Miami. Cruza-Guet formerly served as the regional diversity coordinator for the APAGS Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. Born in Florida, Cruza-Guet grew up and completed her undergraduate education in Quito, Ecuador.
Goals: Cruza-Guet hopes to promote an exchange of information between APAGS and students using traditional and innovative media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. "I want to cultivate the relationship between APAGS and the APA's Public Affairs Office to find ways to publicize the potential of psychologists in training," she says.
Her balancing act: Cruza-Guet enjoys traveling and gardening, but mostly spends time playing with her two children and husband. "It's a challenge to be both a mother and a graduate student, but I do my best to balance the two," she says.
These four new leaders will join five previously elected APAGS committee members who are returning this fall. They are:
Kyle Gobrogge, Florida State University, member-at-large, science.
Ali M. Mattu, Catholic University of America, member-at-large, diversity.
Arlette Ngoubene Atioky, Lehigh University, member-at-large, membership, recruitment and retention.
Konjit V. Page, University of North Dakota, past chair.
Erlanger Turner, Texas A&M University, member-at-large, practice.
Also representing graduate students are four subcommittee chairs, appointed by the APAGS associate executive director. This year, they are:
Lore M. Dickey, chair, University of North Dakota, Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.
Karen Kersting, Virginia Commonwealth University, chair, Convention Committee.
Gregory Matos, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, chair, Advocacy Coordinating Team.
Innocent F. Okozi, Seton Hall University, chair, Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs.
By Jared C. Clark
To learn more about your APAGS representatives, and for their contact information, visit Meet Your APAGS Officers.
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