Tag Archives: Leadership

Why You Should Join the APAGS Convention Committee


The 2016 APAGS Convention Committee at this year’s APA Convention in Denver.

If you have ever been to the APA convention, you know how thrilling it is: the famous psychologists, the innovative research ideas, and the free pens (just to name a few exciting things)! I was completely enamored after my first convention and wanted to contribute. Some of you may be thinking the same exact thing now, and with another convention over, it is time to start considering being a part of the APAGS programming and fervor that is convention.

Here are some reasons why you may be a good fit for the APAGS convention committee:

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Ian Gutierrez, APAGS Chair

An introduction from the new APAGS Chair

IanAs the new APAGS Chair, I will have the privilege of representing graduate students within the American Psychological Association beginning August 8th. By way of introduction to those of you who may not know me, I wanted to share a few thoughts and reflections in advance of the beginning of my term.

I am a very political person. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of community organizing, the necessity of labor rights, stronger protections for working people, and the critical importance of creating a more just society that offers opportunity for all, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

For me, becoming a psychologist necessitates being politically minded. Just look at the world we live in: The post-war order that secured peace and stability in Europe is under siege; Iraq and Syria are engulfed in intractable civil wars; and terrorism continues to claim the lives of innocent civilians around the world. At home, women still earn only three-quarters of what equally-qualified men earn; African-Americans disproportionately suffer the injustices of mass incarceration, and others find that a routine traffic stop by a police officer may have life-threatening consequences; rural and impoverished communities have been torn apart by the opioid and methamphetamine crises; many Americans remain unemployed or underemployed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis; student debt has ensnared millions of Americans in a financial trap from which they find it impossible to escape; Americans continue to lead the Western world in gun deaths, most of them the result of suicide; and, as a result of these and other developments, racism, sexism, and xenophobia have found new political purchase in our social and cultural landscape.

Professional psychology likewise faces enormous challenges. The findings of the APA’s Independent Review (i.e., the Hoffman Report) have undermined the public’s faith in our profession’s most prominent institution. The “replication crisis” has prompted serious challenges to longstanding claims made by many research psychologists. Psychologists remain excluded from the Medicare definition of a physician, barring psychologists access to resources critical for supplying the public with quality mental health care. Despite the proven effectiveness of psychotherapy, too many Americans still lack access to the care they so desperately need.

Psychologists must be involved in finding solutions to all of these problems. Yet, for students, this can be overwhelming. “The world has its problems, but I just need to finish my dissertation.” “I am concerned about the challenges facing our profession, but right now I just need to match for internship.”  I have heard these and other similar statements many times.

Graduate school can be difficult, and many obstacles must be overcome to complete a doctorate in psychology. Believe me, I know just as well as you do. However, I strongly believe that we are living in a significant period in both our nation’s history and that of our profession. Maybe you’ve asked a parent what they did during the Summer of Love or what it felt like to see the Berlin Wall come tumbling down. I believe that great changes are taking place in our lifetimes, right now, that demand our presence and action. More importantly, they demand our skills, knowledge, passion, and talents as psychologists in training. Ask yourself: Years from now, when your family asks you what you did when the world changed in 2017, what do you imagine yourself saying? Where were you standing?

Where are you standing?

Even though there are enormous challenges facing our society and our world, I remain confident that the world of tomorrow will be better than the world of today. I have that hope because I have seen the future. The future is us. The maturity, vision, energy, and character of our generation is unparalleled, and I know that because I have had the privilege of hearing so many of you share your dreams and ideas. Already we have accomplished so much, and we’re just getting started.

As APAGS Chair, I promise to do my very best to show APA and the field of psychology the energy and promise that you bring to the table. I believe that the student voice is critical to the future of our profession and our society, and I will give everything I can to ensure that the student voice is heard. In turn, I ask that you keep bringing your energy, creativity, passion, and vision to your research, your practice, your education, your advocacy, and your activism. The future is counting on us.

I am an open book. You can follow me on Twitter at @IanAGutierrez.

Author Bio:

Ian A. Gutierrez, MA, is a graduate student at the University of Connecticut pursuing his doctorate in Clinical Psychology and the 2016-2017 Chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). His research focuses on the development of belief systems over the life span.

Editor’s Note: Interested in becoming a part of APAGS Leadership? There are many ways to get involved!


State Leadership Conference–Connecting With a Common Goal

U.S. Capitol 1793-1863 Washington, DC, USA

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC, USA

This past month, I experienced the thrill of “hitting the hill” and advocating for psychologists, graduate students, patients, and community members around the country amidst the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capitol. It was legislative advocacy day, the finale to end my time attending the American Psychological Association State Leadership Conference (SLC) in Washington DC. I had just spent the last four days engaging in training with leaders in diversity, early career issues, social reform, legislation reform, and much more as I participated in passionate conversations with psychologists and graduate students from throughout the nation who shared a single vision—advocacy.

As I stood with clinical psychologists from across Oregon, I felt a sense of power, ownership, and support as we walked to meet several local legislators who wanted to hear about the state of mental health in our nation. While speaking to representatives and their staff, it was an amazing—and nerve racking—experience to share the stories of my patients who are struggling to access quality mental health care. So many times as a student, I have found myself becoming frustrated and discouraged when I met with patients who were experiencing a mental health crisis but who were forced to wait for care in emergency departments, friend’s homes, or on the streets. When I was standing amidst other students and psychologists who cared about people who were suffering and who were advocating for them, it filled me with a sense of hope.

This sense of optimism stemmed from so many individual experiences I had with other people attending the State Leadership Conference. One specific experience took place the night I landed in Washington DC. I was meeting several APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team members (all happened to be women) for the first time at a local restaurant for dinner. As we sat together learning each other’s stories, I was struck by the amazing work that each woman was doing in her community. Additionally, I found myself genuinely interested in not only the professional accomplishments of each individual at the table, but also in her personal reasons for getting involved in advocacy and leadership with APAGS. It was comforting and encouraging seeing the faces of women representing various regions from across the country who cared about the same issues that I did.

I am incredibly grateful for the experience I had at SLC this year—for the connection, the support, and the engagement. From meeting with lawmakers who were honestly interested in hearing about the mental health crisis in our country, to engaging with fellow graduate students who had the tenacity to take on national issues, I have been energized by these interactions. I hope to take this same energy with me as I continue graduate school and grow as a future clinician; I hope one day to come back to SLC as a psychologist who is involved in meaningful change.

With hope,

[Editor’s Note: Roseann Fish Getchell is a clinical psychology student at George Fox University and a Northwest Regional Advocacy Coordinator for APAGS-ACT.]

Psych The Vote! Final Chance to Meet Blaire and Justin before Voting Begins

psychthevoteWe’re once again Psyching the Vote for APAGS Chair-Elect! During the month of April, APAGS members can submit an elections ballot for elections for APAGS Chair-Elect and four members at large (link contains position descriptions and official bios). Members will get an email with voting instructions tomorrow, April 1. This post is the final in our series in which candidates voluntarily answer our questions in 200 words or less, to give voters some insight into what they will bring to their prospective positions. We’ve heard already from Blaire and Justin last week when they spoke about the relevance of leadership and advocacy competencies.

Here we go with our final question for APAGS Chair-Elect: 

What is it about psychology or about fellow graduate students that will keep you shuffling back and forth to DC dozens of times during your 3+ years in office for APAGS? What is it about YOU that makes you believe you can sustain your energy and focus for that long?

Justin Karr responds: 


I was initially attracted to the discipline of psychology due to its focus on improving people’s lives through both translatable research and direct clinical work. In this same light, I came to APAGS with the interest of serving students. My advocacy to date has focused on providing a voice to students, and reducing the burdens that we face during our training and early careers. I personally know the disappointment of not matching to an internship, and I have felt the burden of debt and the constant stress of financial insecurity. These issues are not individual to me, and they require passionate advocacy. My own experiences, and the stories of my peers, motivate me to advocate to the highest powers for improved educational standards, greater training opportunities, and increased graduate funding. These goals do not only serve to help students, but they also serve to help the public. The world needs well-trained psychologists, free of undue burdens that interfere with their training and meaningful work. I will work every day of my tenure as the APAGS Chair-elect to reduce barriers, support educational quality, and ensure that every psychology student has access to the highest quality of graduate education.

Blaire Schembari responds:


At my first APAGS leadership meeting, I felt a rush of excitement. Over three days of back-to-back meetings, I participated in discussions, brainstorming sessions, and working groups focused on addressing critical graduate student issues. After the final meeting, I expected to be worn out; however, I was inspired and ready to lead. My energy was maintained because I deeply connect with the leadership and advocacy I am a part of with APAGS.

Advocating for my fellow psychology graduate students’ interests and making a difference in their lives and future careers will motivate me to travel during my time in office.

Additionally, I will sustain my energy and focus during my travel, as I have already had practice. My now partner and I were in a long-distance relationship for my first three years of graduate school. I traveled from D.C. to California every month, maintaining my graduate studies and other responsibilities. At times, traveling was difficult; however, I had something, in this case someone, I was passionate about, which fueled my motivation. Giving a voice to my peers is what I am passionate about. I am confident my fervor for leadership and advocacy will keep me energized and focused to travel.


That’s a wrap! Tomorrow, you as an APAGS member will receive your ballot! Check the inbox and spam folder of the email account you have on file with APA. If you don’t receive a ballot, try entering your last name and membership number here or request a new ballot from Garnett Coad in our Elections Office. — APAGS Staff.

Psych The Vote! Meet 3 Candidates for APAGS Member-at-Large, Diversity

psychthevoteWe’re Psyching the Vote for APAGS Member-at-Large, Diversity Focus! During the month of April, APAGS members can submit an elections ballot for elections for APAGS chair-elect and four members at large (link contains position descriptions and official bios). Members will get an email with voting instructions on April 1. This post is the fifth in a series of six ending tomorrow in which candidates voluntarily answer our questions in 200 words or less, to give voters some insight into what they will bring to their prospective positions.

Our question for APAGS Member-at-Large, Diversity Focus: 

Creating a graduate school experience where students of historically marginalized backgrounds can feel safe is very important for multiple stakeholders — and is receiving a lot of national attention. What do you think is APAGS’s specific role in promoting safety, and what should be our top priorities in the next few years?

Mona Elgohail responds: 

ElgohailA quick Google search of my name will show one of several instances throughout my life when I was discriminated against by those who were supposedly there to help me excel academically. I know first-hand that discrimination against students of historically marginalized backgrounds is still grossly pervasive and tolerated within some university settings. I believe that APAGS is uniquely positioned to address these injustices top-down through policy, and bottom-up by providing minority students with resources to advocate for themselves and create change in their departments.

I aspire to establish policies that encourage graduate programs to more explicitly commit to inclusiveness and diversity. These efforts would involve surveying students to determine how new policies can best reflect the needs of marginalized students nationwide and create meaningful change in their graduate programs.

Solutions can take a number of forms, including periodic trainings on diversity issues; innovative approaches to recruitment of minority students and faculty; the formation of advisory committees within departments that focus on diversity and inclusion; and courses that provide effective understandings of privilege, policy, and social justice. Ultimately, creating a culture where marginalized students feel safe should be a priority for graduate programs and aligns perfectly with APAGS’s mission.

Jamal Hailey responds:

HaileyAPAGS is uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role in addressing issues concerning safety on a national level through student engagement activities. Over the next few years, APAGS’s top priority should be developing and implementing a strategic plan, which includes having conversations with students across the county, to address issues related to gender based violence and sexual assaults; transphobia, structural level oppression, and the safety of Black students as anti-Black propaganda continues to increase across the country. Elevating the voices of students across campuses provides them with an opportunity to voice their concerns and recommendation regarding safety at their respective campuses. While students at colleges may not have the same experiences, providing an opportunity for students to engage in a national dialogue could yield important information, which APAGS could use to develop a national strategy to address and promote safety for students, particularly those from marginalized and/or underrepresented groups.

Fanny Ng responds:


Graduate students from historically marginalized backgrounds should not just feel safe in their programs but feel valued and respected as developing professionals who bring unique experiences and perspectives to understandings and applications of psychology in research, practice and teaching to diverse peoples. We should aim not only to establish safety for minority students but welcome diversity across all dimensions at every program as diverse viewpoints enrich teaching and learning for all students and faculty. Diverse viewpoints produce more cognizant and culturally competent psychologists from all backgrounds to effectively address the needs of changing communities currently and in the future.

Therefore, I believe APAGS’s top priorities for the coming years should be to establish practical guidelines for graduate programs on the 1) regular assessment of program diversity climate and 2) strategies for developing effective action plans to cultivate greater safety and inclusion for all students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. I have seen the ways that student feedback can drive lasting change in graduate program policies and structures. I believe that APAGS can and should lead graduate programs to provide safe, non-evaluative avenues for student feedback that redouble the effort to create more welcoming student environments for psychology’s diverse future leaders.


Be on the lookout tomorrow for our final post in this series and be sure to vote when you receive your APAGS electronic ballot on Friday! — APAGS Staff.