Volume 52   Number 4 Fall 2019

Student Issues

Edited by Joy Agner, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and Erin Godly-Reynolds, University of North Carolina Charlotte

This column presents a message to student members from the incoming and outgoing student representatives.

SCRA Transitions

Written by Camilla Cummings, DePaul University

Camilla Cummings

Hello SCRA student members!

I am excited to be joining the SCRA Executive Committee as the 2019-2021 Student Representative, and am writing to introduce myself and my goals for this position. I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at DePaul University in Chicago. My research interests include housing interventions for individuals currently or at-risk of experiencing homelessness, policies and systems that serve homeless persons, and equity issues within housing and homelessness. My clinical work focuses on treatment and recovery interventions for individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring alcohol or substance use disorders. I work under the supervision of Dr. Molly Brown.

My goals as the Student Representative are well aligned with the current initiatives Erin and Joy have been focusing on, which are to:

  • Facilitate initiatives to support students through student research grants (i.e., thesis and dissertation grants) and travel awards. It is deeply important to support the work of student scholars through these mechanisms to reduce barriers to meeting their professional goals.

  • Amplify the voices of community psychology students through The Community Psychologist student columns, and advocate for student priorities on the Division 27 Executive Committee. 

  • Expand the visibility of community psychology through the use of social media to include diverse stakeholders (e.g., activists, students, community members, community practitioners, and interdisciplinary scholars). I also hope to better highlight the work of students!

  • Foster a welcoming and supportive student community by recruiting student members as well as organizing and participating in networking and mentoring events at Biennial conferences. It is my priority to cultivate a community that celebrates aspects of individual diversity and strengthens the shared commitment to the values of community psychology. In this role, I am striving to embolden the genuine participation of all student members. 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the work graduate students are doing, advocate on their behalf, and celebrate their achievements. Please feel free to reach out at any time with ideas that you have about how SCRA can better support students or makes support more accessible. Please also contact the Student Representatives if you are looking to connect/network or for opportunities to engage more deeply with SCRA student initiatives. Erin Godly-Reynolds and Joy Agner, thank you for your service and your many accomplishments on behalf of community psychology students!

Reflecting on Two Years as a Student Representative, Mentoring at the 2019 Biennial, and Plans for Continued Involvement in SCRA

Written by Erin Godly-Reynolds, University of North Carolina - Charlotte

SCRA Students,SCRA_NSR_StudentIssues_Column_EGR.jpg

Since August of 2017 I have had the pleasure of serving as one of your two student representatives (SR’s). During the first year of my tenure, I learned from and worked alongside Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski, who focused much of her time as SR revamping this position and components of our primary roles (e.g., the student research grant award, specifically the request for proposals and scoring rubric). In her TCP student issues column published in the fall of 2018, Jaimelee communicated our collaborative work through the end of my first year as SR, and if you’re interested in running for SR I highly recommend this article, which outlines the position as it has remained through the duration of my second year. 

Therefore, instead of repeating an existent, comprehensive overview, I will highlight some of my favorite aspects of the position as well as the Mentoring Task Force work that I helped to initiate and then chose to focus on this past year. Finally, I will transition to SCRA mentoring programs and report some preliminary findings from evaluation data we collected from participants (i.e., mentors and mentees) in July via an online survey.

Student representatives are members of the Executive Committee (EC), and as such, participate in EC meetings and attend a yearly, three-day, in-person meeting, during which the upcoming year’s SCRA budget is presented, debated, and passed. In addition, there are always two student representatives, whose tenures overlap by one year. The most enjoyable aspect of my experiences as SR were interacting and working with EC members and my fellow SRs, Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski and Joy Agner. I grew tremendously as a professional and colleague by collaborating on SCRA work with experienced community psychologists on the EC. I am grateful for the opportunities that this position provided for me to learn from Drs. Jean Hill, Jim Emshoff, Nicole Freund, Susan Wolfe, Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Carolyn Tompsett, Dina Birman, Scot Evans, Melissa Strompolis, Nicole Allen, Noé Chávez, Susan Torres-Harding, and many others! A sincere thank you to all EC members’ genuine enthusiasm for serving in informal mentoring roles for the next generation of community psychologists, such as myself. Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed working with graduate students at other institutions who share my passion for our field and who I met through my role as SR.

One of the main reasons that I ran for SR was to create more structured ways for SCRA members to continue and deepen relationships that often begin at conferences; thus, my closing thoughts pertain to two SCRA mentoring programs. First, thank you very much to everyone who was involved, specifically the Mentoring Task Force members, but also the Membership Engagement and Professional Development (MEPD) Committee members and the Council on Cultural, Ethnic and Racial Affairs (CERA) for their work throughout this two-year process. This work began by conducting a needs assessment. To meet members’ reported mentoring and networking needs, we facilitated three mentoring programs; I chaired or co-chaired two of these programs’ sub-committees. Because Dominique Thomas chaired the floating mentoring program sub-committee, the following summary focuses on the other two programs, which provided SCRA members with small group mentoring at the Biennial and one-to-one mentoring that will continue through June 2020.   

Small Group Mentoring at the 2019 Biennial Conference

A very special thank you to our mentors (listed alphabetically below), without whom this program would not have been possible: Ramy Barhouche, Anne Brodsky, Louis Brown, Jim Cook, Jim Emshoff, Gloria Levin, Guadalupe Lopez Hernandez, Bradley Olson, Stephanie Reich, Nellie Tran, Judah Viola, Jen Wallin-Ruschman, Susan Wolfe, and Lindsey Zimmerman. These twelve mentors facilitated small group sessions for approximately fifty minutes during either breakfast or lunch and 165 SCRA members signed up online, in advance, to attend as mentees. Examples of session topics included, “Getting a practitioner job” and “Engaging in research collaboration”, and with only a few exceptions, topics were driven by needs assessment data. 

After the conference, 51 participants (40 mentees and 11 mentors) completed an evaluation survey online. Overall, the feedback was mostly positive; for example, 95% of mentees who provided feedback reported that attending their small group mentoring session either somewhat or strongly supported their professional development, and 95% either agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend that mentoring topic to be covered again at a future Biennial conference. Finally, 74% of participants who provided feedback either agreed or strongly agreed that the mentoring session met their expectations. Suggestions for improving the small group mentoring program at our next Biennial conference include creating a system to track who actually attended each session, which would prohibit walk-ins who did not sign-up in advance from attending and would document no-shows, and to group mentees based on their level of training (e.g., graduate students in one group and postdocs in another group) to increase the likelihood of conversation topics and questions being relevant and beneficial to all mentees in attendance.

Year-long (June 2019 – June 2020) Mentoring Program Updates and Next Steps

Even though we are just getting started with this program, I would like to wholeheartedly thank our mentors, who volunteered to provide mentoring for either one or two SCRA members this year; we were able to match 31 mentees with the following 18 mentors (listed alphabetically):  Fabricio Balcazar, Ramy Barhouche, Noé Chávez, Jessica Drum, Erin Rose Ellison, Tiffeny Jimenez, Sharon Johnson-Hakim, David Julian, Ryan Kilmer, Pamela Martin, Katie McAuliff, Brad Olson, Eylin Palamaro-Munsell, Crystal Reinhart, Toshi Sasao, Nellie Tran, Judah Viola, and Tom Wolff. In addition, I am extremely grateful to Katricia Stewart, a doctoral student at Portland State University, for co-chairing the Year-long Mentoring Sub-Committee. I look forward to working with her and other committee members to support our program participants and evaluate our efforts this year in order to improve these mentoring opportunities and experiences for future cohorts. If you are interested in joining one of our mentoring sub-committees, please reach out to me directly. 

In conclusion, over the course of my two years as SR I hope that I have adequately emphasized and communicated both the plethora of opportunities available to all students to get more involved in SCRA, as well as how experienced SCRA members truly welcomed and supported me! Your contributions are valuable, and we need students to participate in order to sustain our current work, innovate and pursue new endeavors, expand our reach, and deepen our impact! Thanks again to everyone with whom I had the pleasure of working with as an SR, and I look forward to continuing my service through other roles so I can collaborate with and learn from many more SCRA members in the future!