2005 - 2006 APA Science Grant Winner
As a twelve year old scoring the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory, I had no idea that my eventual career choice would be psychology or that I would develop a passion for research. While I was growing up, buzzwords such as “clinical intervention” and “evidence-based” flew around my house. Over time, casual encounters with my clinical psychologist mother’s research developed into a serious interest which was also fostered by a high school Advanced Placement Statistics class. This interest led to helping to assemble what would eventually become a federally funded Safe Schools Healthy Students grant, participating in clinical phone interviewing, and most recently having an article published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
My exposure to research has shown me the perseverance and organization that is needed to complete large scale research projects. For example, actively participating as a member of a research team and helping to guide a project from its genesis to acceptance for publication in an APA journal have provided me with an extremely strong skills base and model for my own research. I recently completed my undergraduate thesis, which explored the use of a journaling intervention to improve quality of life for adolescents living in Alzheimer’s caregiving families. The proposal for this project won the Division 20 Undergraduate Proposed Research Award, a Copeland Fund Award from the College of Wooster, and a Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant.
While completing my thesis and talking with professionals at branches of the Alzheimer’s Association throughout the United States and professionals in the fields of nursing care and geropsychology, I repeatedly came across issues of health policy; more specifically, access to services issues. As I began to think more about policy issues in relation to caregiving, I also came across an application in Eye on Psi Chi to work as an intern in the Science Policy Office of the APA Science Directorate. I thought that an opportunity like this might help me to hone my career goals and to explore my interest in science policy. Following the application process, I was called for an interview and found myself in Washington, D. C. a few months later, sharing a townhouse near Capitol Hill with my aunt’s best friend from high school.
During the summer, I was engaged in activities that gave me a better understanding of what the APA does, how its different directorates function, and how it addresses and engages in issues of science policy. I alternated between preparing materials for APA's Summer Science Institute and attending several science related briefings and bill markups on the Hill. In fact, APA's Science Policy Office (a part of the Science Directorate) encouraged me and a fellow intern to attend any Congressional, science related events that were of interest to us.
Of particular value and interest were the opportunities to go to the Hill and observe the kind of action that is taken in response to issues of mental health. For example, I had the opportunity to listen to the director of NIMH speak on the issue of depression and the need for mental health parity in insurance coverage. Following this hearing, I remember my serious mood lightening when I returned to my desk and spoke to another intern who had also just returned from a hearing. At this hearing, Jack Nicklaus had been the star witness and she relayed that several members of Congress had asked him for autographs at the break.
In addition to the Congressional experience, I enjoyed working at APA and having the chance to learn how the organization functions. As part of the Science Directorate staff, I attended weekly meetings which provided exposure to issues of concern throughout the organization and the ways in which those issues related to the Science Directorate in particular. I was especially impressed by the diversity of matters APA’s employees address, which was further emphasized through a series of brown bag lunches for interns. During these lunches, APA employees from different directorates and offices gave presentations about their jobs and the different paths they took in psychology.
Everything that I absorbed this past summer in Washington, DC will no doubt serve me well. Having the opportunity to work at APA and to observe the intersection between science and policy, specifically, was invaluable and will be something that I take with me as I begin my first year of training in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Case Western Reserve University.
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