Meet Your APAGS Leaders!

Getting involved in APAGS governance is a great way to hone your leadership skills, network with other leaders in the field, and learn about and advocate for important issues affecting the field of psychology. Staff here at gradPSYCH Blog want all members to meet their appointed and elected leaders in our new series—Meet Your APAGS Leaders!

Our first introduction is Emily Voelkel, the current Chair of APAGS.

Tell us about yourself. committee-bio-voelkel_tcm7-158532

I grew up in a small town near Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m the oldest of three girls, and family has always been very important to me. Growing up, I always felt a strong desire to see the world. So, when I graduated high school I went to Chicago to attend Loyola University. Chicago is a wonderful, vibrant place, and I just loved my time there. I was especially appreciative of the opportunity to study abroad in Rome and travel some of Europe! I can’t wait to go back again. After college I actually joined Teach For America and spent two years teaching 6th grade in Houston before deciding to go to graduate school. It was a life-changing experience that changed my view of our education system and my role in social justice in our country. Currently, I am near the end (finally!) of my training and completing a clinical PTSD fellowship at the Boston VA. I’m married to theHadley Texan I met in Houston, Kolby, and we have an adorable 3 year old pup named Hadley. In my free time (yes, you do get some free time later in training) I love to walk with Hadley, cook, garden, and binge watch TV shows. I love food and traveling and am greatly looking forward to the days Kolby and I can experience more of the world together.

How did you get involved with APAGS?

I first got involved with APAGS very early in my doctoral career. I was at the 2011 National Multicultural Conference and Summit in Seattle when I saw the APAGS booth. I stopped by and talked to the person working there. I realized my program did not have a Campus Representative (CR) for advocacy, and I really wanted to bring that role to the University of Houston (UH). So, I sent in the materials and became the first UH Counseling Psychology department CR! I really loved being a part of the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team (ACT) and was thrilled to be discussing key psychology advocacy issues with my peers. During my year as CR, I was promoted to Texas State Advocacy Coordinator (SAC). I was honored to be asked to attend the APA State Leadership Conference in D.C. during that time and attend the APAGS-ACT business meeting. From that point on I was definitely hooked on APAGS! I wanted to be involved with this inspiring group of leaders and work toward solving important student issues as much as possible. Eventually, I ran for Chair-Elect, won, and here I am today!

What has been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Awesome question! I’m sure many people will have poignant or funny responses to this. I can’t wait to read them. But, honestly, I am not that into pop culture, fame, or celebrities. The things that stand out to me the most over even the last few years are how many talented people have lost their lives…Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, only to name a few. Mental health concerns have, in my opinion, influenced the loss of many of these lives that were iconic in pop culture and the arts.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

My most recent Facebook post was in response to the heartbreaking events in Baltimore recently. I recommended a good piece on White Fragility by goodmenproject.com:

“One of the experiences I am most grateful for from my doctoral education was having courses that allowed me to explore my Whiteness. Discuss what it means to be White in our society and the ways in which I have benefitted from a societal system that continues to perpetuate and thrive on racism in many ways. What is happening in Baltimore is only one of many examples of the consequences of continuing to be unwilling to discuss and take responsibility for this system and make efforts toward change. My heart goes out to everyone involved. For those interested in a great article that explains why it is so difficult for many White people to talk about racism, I recommend this piece.”

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

Finding Peace Amidst the Chaos

What advice do you have for future leaders in the field of psychology?

I think the best advice I can give to psychology’s future leaders is to be innovative and forward-thinking. Psychology as our advisors knew it and as we know it is changing. If we are going to be true leaders in psychology, we need to start to look forward to what psychology could be and how it will fit into the changing healthcare, research, university, and other systems. If we continue to define psychology by current parameters, I worry we will spend much more time defending “our turf” and less time defining what a new psychology can and should be.