Category Archives: News

Finding My Passion: To Be Young, Gifted, and Black

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Welcome to our new blogspace, We’re Psyched!the purpose of this space is for undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs to share engaging topics surrounding new research, current social issues and timely thinkpieces related to women of color in the field.

This post falls under the “Finding My Passion” theme of the blog series.

 

By Sarah L. Cooke, MEd (School Psychology Doctoral Student, Howard University)

 

While attending a public-school deemed a “School of Excellence,” I was initially identified as gifted in the third-grade.  After scoring in the 99th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which is a national standardized test, I was referred for gifted testing and subsequently placed in the gifted program at my school.  I was the only Black student in the program, and always felt as if I did not quite belong in the program.  Being “smart” came naturally for me, and it was something my parents, teachers, and even I recognized at a young age; however, being in this environment was a bit intimidating and created feelings of competition, a fear of failure, and a desire to be perfect.

 

Although, I questioned my belonging and my social and emotional needs began to change. As a result of participating in the gifted program, I have since realized that my feelings were not unique.  The fact that I was the only Black gifted student in the program speaks to the broader aspect of underrepresentation of certain populations of students.  These special populations of gifted children include, but are not limited to, children who are from cultural, linguistic, low-income and ethnically diverse backgrounds (NAGC, 2011).

 

Research shows that Black and Latino students are far less likely than their White and Asian peers to be assigned to gifted programs.   According to the U.S. Department of Education, the likelihood of getting assigned to such programs is 66% lower for Black students and 47% lower for Latino students (NCES, 2012).  These statistics are alarming and quite frankly disappointing because gifted students benefit from educational programs aimed to meet their needs and develop their talents, and this indicates that there are certain populations of students whose needs are not being met.

 

The socioemotional issues that I experienced in my gifted program was also more common than I realized.  Research shows that these underrepresented populations are at higher risk for socioemotional issues than White and Asian populations (Stormont et al., 2001).  In fact, there is an alarming rate of Black students choosing not to participate in gifted programs because of negative peer pressures and racial identity status (Grantham, 2004). Other socioemotional aspects may include heightened awareness, anxiety, perfectionism, stress, issues with peer relationships, and concerns with identity and fit (NAGC, 2014).

 

Currently, as a PhD student in school psychology, I have found my passion for advocating for diversity in learning as well as promoting relevant and accessible services for all students, particularly gifted students.  Even in research of this population, there seems to be a lack of research surrounding different aspects including definitions of giftedness, identification, and servicing the population.  My personal experiences have helped to develop my passion for determining the services which are most appropriate for this population.  This has proven to be challenging; however, as I pursue a career in psychology, I will continue to support and address the learning needs of all students, including students who are gifted and from underrepresented populations.

 

References:

Grantham, Tarek C. (2004).  Multicultural mentoring to increase Black male          representation in gifted programs.  Gifted Child Quarterly, 48, 232-245.

National Association for Gifted Children. (2014). Definitions of giftedness. Retrieved from http://www.nagc.org/

National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics.  Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012001.pdf

Stormont, M., Stebbins, M. S., & Holliday, G. (2001). Characteristics and educational support needs of underrepresented gifted adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 413. doi: 10.1002/pits.1030

 

Biography:

Sarah Cooke is a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at Howard University. She received a Master of Education from Howard University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgia State University. Sarah is currently a member of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), American Psychological Association (APA) Division 16 and National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC). Her research interests include culturally responsive gifted assessment and intervention, advocacy for state-mandated gifted programs and underrepresentation of minorities in gifted education programs. A future goal is to practice as a school psychologist assisting in the understanding of students’ unique strengths and needs while providing effective and culturally appropriate prevention and intervention services.

Want to contribute to the We’re Psyched blog space? Send us your blog topic idea here.

5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Career in Aging

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By Hardeep Omhi, MA (Gerontology and Human Development and Family Studies Doctoral Student, Iowa State University) 

Did you know that older adults (individuals 65 years of age and older) are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population?

Did you know that in 2035, older adults are projected to outnumber kids for the first time in U.S. history?

Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that the majority of the jobs that will have the most growth in the next 10 years are related to aging services?

There is a broad range of exciting and fulfilling personally fulfilling career opportunities to work with this rapidly growing segment of the population. However, students seldom consider pursuing a specialization and career focused on adult development and aging.

There are a variety of factors that come into play when we explore the major subject and career trajectory we would like to pursue. Many of us tend to major in psychology because it offers a variety of avenues to explore and allows us to help others. Within psychology, students tend to pick niches and frequently veer towards specializations of clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, and developmental psychology with an emphasis on early life. Those who may consider pursuing a career focused on the later part of the lifespan often find it difficult to discover information about exploring such a career path.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring careers in aging, here are five steps to take:

1. Gain practical experiences.

Become a research assistant, a volunteer in a setting where older adults are (e.g., senior centers, senior residences, recreation department classes, long-term care facilities), and partake in internships and practicum experiences with older adults. For example, you can capitalize on summers by engaging in paid internships while being a research assistant during the academic year. In these practical experiences, you can ask your supervisors about their career trajectory to explore if it’s something you might be interested in pursuing.

2. Find mentors –  both faculty and graduate students.

Mentors who are supportive and have a personality that meshes with yours are very helpful. It is understandable that your research interests will change over time. Your research interests do not have to exactly match those of your mentors, but it is important that they are parallel to some extent. It’s also helpful to get to know graduate students and potentially have them as mentors because they know what it’s like to be an undergrad and they may be able to relate to you more effectively than a faculty member.

3. Build strong and effective communication skills.

Regardless of whether you’re interested in going into a research or practice-oriented career, it is essential for you to effectively communicate — in both a verbal and written manner. Encourage your mentor or instructor to give feedback on your written work and on your oral presentations.

4. Get to know statistics and how to critically read research articles.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a research-oriented career or a practice-focused one, it would behoove you to understand statistics and know how to critically disentangle research articles. For example, if you are a manager of a long-term care facility who is interested in decreasing levels of employee burnout, you may look towards research to explore empirically-based programs/interventions to help with this. As such, a strong foundation in statistical and research methodology will help you get through the literature and critically assess how well research findings apply to your employees. In doing so, you’ll encounter issues of reliability, validity, and have the ability to understand what the statistics noted in the research article actually mean.

5. Lastly, take a look at American Psychological Association’s new resource: Exploring Careers in Aging.

These step-by-step educational roadmaps (one for undergraduates and one for graduate students) will help you learn more about career opportunities in aging and ways to prepare for your career trajectory. They also include questions to consider and actions to take at each educational level, examples of adult development and aging-focused careers, and lots of resources.

Figuring out what you should major in and what sort of career path you want to take can be a challenging and exciting process. Gerontology – the study of aging – is a unique field that capitalizes on interdisciplinary work. Students who major in disciplines beyond psychology can also intersect with aging. For example, you can be an engineer who designs technology for older adults or major in business and specialize in later life financial issues. There are endless aging-related career possibilities for you to explore. Using this spiffy and informative APA resource will help you navigate every step of the way.

Biography:

Hardeep Obhi, MA, is currently a doctoral candidate studying Gerontology and Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University (ISU). She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and possesses a master’s degree in Research and Experimental Psychology from San Jose State University. Ms. Obhi was recently awarded an F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute on Aging within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her proposal Biopsychosocial Reserves and Dementia: Identifying Life-span Protective Factors, which  will help contribute to the understanding of life-span biopsychosocial reserves to promote cognitive health in later life as well as have implications for developing public health interventions, preventions, and policies for cognitive decline. In addition to her research endeavors, Ms. Obhi has also been an Interdisciplinary Writing Consultant for the Center for Communication Excellence housed within the Graduate College at ISU for three years; in this mentorship role, she helps graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from all disciplines with professional communication in individualized consultations, develops and presents writing seminars and workshops on a variety of topics (e.g., research and grant writing). In Summer 2017, As a graduate intern, Ms. Obhi provided significant support to the APA Office on Aging and the APA Committee on Aging in developing the Exploring Careers in Aging Roadmaps resource.

What is the Recipe for Success? 5 Ways Cooking Can Keep You Young

recipe for success

 

By Erin Cochrane, Sam Gilchrist, and Anna Linden (Department of Psychology, Saint Olaf College, Northfield, MN)

Aging gracefully isn’t always a sweet process. The World Health Organization warns that malnutrition is a looming issue for our aging population1, but sensory losses can make food less appealing and increase risk for undereating and weight loss2. However, eating a variety of foods can boost consumption of micronutrients and help to prevent age-related diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes2. The recent uptick in subscription cooking services like Plated and Hello Fresh, which deliver fresh ingredients to customers’ homes, suggests that Americans are beginning to take charge of their own nutritional needs. Taking an active role in preparing our own food has been shown to benefit physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing as we get older. It seems as though healthy aging could boil down to spending more time in the kitchen, so here are five ways cooking can spice up your daily routine!

 

recipeforsuccess

1. Increases physicality

The health benefits start even before any cooking happens! Before you can cook, you need to get ingredients; getting out to shop for your ingredients is a great way to add some exercise into a daily routine. Food preparation has repeatedly been associated with increased levels of physical activity and self-reported health-status4. The physical advantages of cooking don’t stop there, as research found that those who cook for themselves at least five times a week also had the highest rates of survivorship in a group of individuals over the age of 653. This was consistent even accounting for physical health and nutrition knowledge awareness, showing that anyone can benefit from cooking more of their own meals!

If possible, try to buy ingredients on a day-to-day basis. This will increase your daily exercise as well as ensuring you get the freshest ingredients.

 

2. Helps social and emotional health

Cooking classes can keep kitchen skills from getting stale: they not only improve nutritional habits in older adults, but psychological wellbeing as well5. According to The Guardian, these community classes are increasingly important in the face of budget cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels, and they provide an added bonus of increased independence6. Studies have also shown a relationship between home-based food activities and a strong sense of self, especially when connecting older adults to aspects of their heritage. Cooking traditional dishes and sharing them with a community can promote feelings of belonging and self-efficacy, in addition to joy at mastering new skills7,8.

Look into volunteering for community meals at local charity organizations, or invite friends and family over for a dinner party!

 

3. Improves diet quality

Cooking classes are beneficial for mental health and can also improve the quality of your meals! Researchers have found that older adults enrolled in cooking classes include more vegetables and fiber within their diets, which are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease5. The same study also showed that 98% of participants improved their overall nutritional knowledge, which is crucial to combatting the malnutrition of aging and controlling what one eats. It is also important to note that when you cook for yourself, you control what you eat. To boot, having higher control over caloric consumption is associated with improved quality of health throughout life9.

Eating healthier means knowing the nutritional value of the ingredients in your meals!

 

4. Maintains mental fitness

Cooking can also preserve your cognitive functioning with age. Research indicates that cognitive abilities generally decrease throughout the lifetime, with some individuals experiencing considerable losses in executive functioning10. These are the skills needed for planning, multitasking, and setting goals – the very abilities that keep you independent!

Don’t stew over that, though, because cooking may be able to offset these declines in cognition. Studies show:

  • Monitoring cooking times, prioritizing certain dishes, and setting a table forces cooks to use their prospective memories
  • The attentional demands of cooking have also been shown to transfer to similar tasks requiring constant updating or shifting attention

You can toast to that!

Try cooking a new recipe that involves many steps and challenges you to plan ahead.

 

5. Adapts to your unique situation

If you are no longer living independently, certain cooking modifications may serve up similar benefits. For those with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment, virtual cooking games like ‘kitchen and cooking’ have increased both speed and accuracy of executive functioning11. Updating your kitchen technology may also offset physical limitations and other age-associated hazards. For example, while elderly individuals are at increased risk for burns and fire, implementing oven sensors and cooking-safe systems can shut off power when needed12.

Third, meal delivery programs can replace traditional shopping for homebound adults. Companies like Blue Apron and Chef’d deliver pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to your home, so there is no need to drive. These modifications can keep you self-sufficient and safe in the kitchen.

If you feel you can no longer cook, look into virtual apps or meal delivery services to help support you!

Cooking for yourself provides more than just delicious, nutritious food; it is a cognitively demanding task that builds up physical health and social connections, helping to combat the specific deficits of aging. Dare we say it is a secret ingredient to aging successfully?

What benefits has cooking given to you? Share your thoughts, stories, and favorite recipes with us in the comments below!

 

For further reading:

1World Health Organization (2018). Nutrition for older persons. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ageing/en/index2.html

2Boyce, J. M., & Shone, G. R. (2006). Effects of ageing on smell and taste. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 82, 239-241. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/pgmj.2005.039453

3Chen, R. C., Lee, M.-S., Chang, Y.-H., & Wahlqvist, M. L. (2011). Cooking frequency may enhance survival in Taiwanese elderly. Public Health Nutrition, 15, 1142-1149. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898001200136X

4Thompson, J. L., Bentley, G., Davis, M., Coulson, J., Stathi, A., & Fox, K. R. (2011). Food shopping habits, physical activity and health-related indicators among adults aged ≥70 years. Public Health Nutrition, 14, 1640-1649. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s1368980011000747

5Jyväkorpi, S. K., Pitkälä, K. H., Kautiainen, H., Puranen, T. M., Laakkonen, M. L., & Suominen, M. H. (2014). Nutrition education and cooking classes improve diet quality, nutrient intake, and psychological well-being of home-dwelling older people – a pilot study. Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, 1, 4-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.14283/jarcp.2014.22

6Bernhardt, C. (2012). One foot in the gravy: the rise of cookery classes for older men. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/10/cookery-classesolder-men

7Plastow, N. A., Atwal, A., & Gilhooly, M. (2014). Food activities and identity maintenance in old age: A systematic review and meta-synthesis. Aging & Mental Health, 19, 667-678. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2014.971707

8Kullberg, K., Björklund, A., Sidenvall, B., & Åberg, A. C. (2011). ‘I start my day by thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner’ – A qualitative study on approaches to food-related activities among elderly men with somatic diseases. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 25, 227-234. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00813.x

9Willcox, B. J., Willcox, D. C., Todoriki, H., Fujiyoshi, A., Yano, K., He, Q., Curb, J. D. and Suzuki, M. (2007), Caloric restriction, the traditional Okinawan diet, and healthy aging. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1114, 434–455. http://dx.doi.org/10.1196/annals.1396.037

10Braver, T. S., & West, R. (2008). Working memory, executive control, and aging. In F. I. M. Craik & T. A. Salthouse (Eds.), The handbook of aging and cognition (3rd ed., pp. 311–372). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

11Manera, V., Petit, P.-D., Derreumaux, A., Orvieto, I., Romagnoli, M., Lyttle, G., … Robert, P. H. (2015). “Kitchen and cooking,” a serious game for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease: A pilot study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 7. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2015.00024

12Yared, R., & Abdulrazak, B. (2018). Risk analysis and assessment to enhance safety in a smart kitchen. Fire Technology, 1-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10694-017-0696-5

 

Author Biographies:

Erin Cochrane is a senior at St. Olaf College, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Neuroscience. She is interested in exploring the relationship between genetics and health, and in the future hopes to pursue graduate studies in either genetic counseling or medicine.

Anna Linden is a senior Psychology major at St. Olaf College, concentrating in Statistics. Her interests lie in the field of Human Factors and data analytics, and she’s looking forward to graduate school in the near future.

Samuel Gilchrist is a senior Psychology major at St. Olaf College. He is interested in the field of Behavioral Economics and studying the psychology behind personal financial decisions. In the future, he hopes to find a job in the field of advertising.

We Achieve What We Believe: How to Encourage African American Students to Believe in Their Academic Abilities

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This post continues our blog series regarding racial/ethnic socialization practices, programs, and approaches. APA is putting together a clearinghouse of resources to help parents/caregivers to protect youth of color and themselves from the psychological damage of discrimination and racism. For more information regarding APA’s new initiative and to provide feedback as we continue to engage in this series, please visit: www.apa.org/pi/res

 

By Giselle Hendy (Special Project Coordinator, APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs)

For too long educational stakeholders including researchers, administrators, teachers, parents and even students placed value in the notion that African American students have less interest and capacity in education. What is most troubling is that African American students may themselves hold these beliefs.  This could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak, contributing to achievement at standards below actual capabilities.  Parents and teachers must be sure that they are instilling positive beliefs around African American students and high levels of academic achievement.

Many years ago, I worked as a third-grade teacher. One of my students, Anya*, was truly a model for all; very helpful, obedient, and always on task. Anya earned straight A’s across subjects, with the exception of math. I couldn’t understand her persistent low scores in math, so, I talked to Anya and her grandmother about this anomaly.  The response I received and the lack of reaction from grandma was absolutely shocking.

Anya told me “I just can’t do math. Black women aren’t good at math.” Appalled, I replied “Who told you that?”   Anya replied, “My mama.”

Consciousness is awareness of reality within the limitations of our minds.”

Or, how about this one “Thoughts become things.”

Or, the classic “What one believes one can achieve.”

 

However cliché these anecdotes may seem, the underlying message is poignant: we are only limited by what we believe we cannot do. Anya’s mom had the best of intentions for her daughter. She did not realize how her words, probably made in passing, had such a profound effect on Anya’s beliefs about her ability and her academic performance.  The beliefs we hold have power over our behaviors.  Cognitive biases influence our interpretation of and reactions to experiences in our lives.  It is imperative that African American youth are encouraged to develop a positive academic identity, fostering the belief that they can achieve at high levels in school.

 

So, what can we do about it?

There is much to be done at every level, from a policy level down to the social interactions between educational stakeholders.  Each of us must be mindful of what our foundational beliefs are regarding African-Americans and academic success.  Whether we mean to or not, our implicit beliefs about students influence the ways in which we interact with them and ultimately how students feel about school and their place in it.

 

  1. Assess your personal attitudes and beliefs. We don’t’ always understand how deep our beliefs may go. Sometimes our behavior may even surprise us. In the same vein, we may not always directly, or verbally express our beliefs; they are oftentimes transmitted through our actions. For this reason, it is important to assess our own beliefs, and examine how those beliefs can be translated to students through our actions. Watch this video on Understanding your Racial Biases, then imagine how your own biases around race may have affected the youth you interact with in positive or negative ways.
  2. Promote a narrative of African American intellectual excellence. Provide African American youth with a counternarrative for their place in education. Beyond Black history month, parents and teacher should seek and provide examples of intellectual excellence displayed by African Americans nationally and globally, currently and historically. The more information students have on examples of other African Americans, people who look like them, exceeding standards for education, the less they will be influenced by negative messages about what they can achieve.
  3. Intelligence and ability are malleable. Being smart is not a fixed trait. Oftentimes we send messages that only some people can do very well in school. The incremental theory of intelligence reveals that intelligence and ability can be improved with persistence and hard work (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007). If students believe their efforts can improve their outcomes, they are likely to persist and be more engaged in school. Encourage your students to have patience and keep trying to see better results.
  4. Provide positive socialization messages with regards to race. It is important to prepare our students for the inequities they may face in society. However, research has shown that preparation for bias messages can have a negative effect on academic outcomes (Howard & Bowman, 1985). More positive messages regarding race can lead to improved academic outcomes for African American students. Such messages celebrate the richness of the culture, or promote notions of basic equality among people. Students who are positively socialized around their culture tend to do better in school.

I made a few of these points during a long discussion with my former student Anya and her grandmother. With some additional tutoring through their church, Anya brought an F to an A in math by the end of the school year.  I recently ran into Anya’s grandmother, and she explained to me how influential that one social exchange was to her family.  The younger grandchildren have not received the same messages about Black women, education and ability as their older sister.  Per grandma, Anya continues to thrive academically, and socially as she makes plans for college!

*The student’s name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.

 

References:

Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78(1), 246-263.

Bowman, P.J., & Howard, C. (1985). Race-related socialization, motivation, and academic achievement: A study of Black youths in three-generation families. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 24(2), 134-141.

 

Biography:

Giselle Hendy is the special project coordinator for APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. She is also a professor at Baltimore City Community College and a doctoral student in developmental psychology at Howard University under the supervision of Dr. A. Wade Boykin.  Ms. Hendy focuses her research efforts on improving academic outcomes for African American youth through the incorporation of student cultural resources during instructional pursuits.

Paving the Way: Dr. Regina Kimbrough

Graphic designers at work.

Welcome to our new blogspace, We’re Psyched!the purpose of this space is for undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs to share engaging topics surrounding new research, current social issues and timely thinkpieces related to women of color in the field.

 

By Janicia Dugas (4th Year School Psychology Doctoral Student, Howard University)

I’m psyched to have met an inspirational mentor who has certainly been influential in igniting my passion for the field of psychology. Regina Kimbrough, PhD, has by far kimsurpasses her call of duty and is truly an invaluable asset. Dr. Kimbrough is multifaceted at best, receiving her doctorate in clinical psychology at Howard University and functions as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist within D.C. Public Schools.

Dr. Kimbrough is gifted with the ability to leave a lasting impact with the individuals she serves. Granted with the most rewarding training experience I’ve had to date, it has been most gratifying to witness Dr. Kimbrough’s impact in working with students and families. She has truly mastered the art of meeting students where they are, by building upon their unique strengths to produce positive overall development. She is very intentional and invested in her students’ progression and their ability to thrive!

Much like the true gem that she is; she also has a refined interest in mindfulness, wellbeing, and the energy of positive aura. Dr. Kimbrough is the owner of Empowered to H.O.P.E., where she instills her clients with the capacity to navigate their life’s journey. It is because of Dr. Kimbrough that I have grown vastly interested in linking mental health to school psychology services in the form of wellness interventions tailored to enhance academic achievement. The role of psychology is to build upon the individual client as a whole; and Dr. Kimbrough is subservient in adopting a holistic mindset with each individual she encounters.

I plan to be a change-agent in every sense of the word. I wish to not only be a gatekeeper for services; but to also empower my clients to be self-proclaimed gate keepers of controlling their destiny; by being intentional in their thoughts, reactions, and behaviors. In sum, I want my role as a school psychologist to be instilling purpose in someone else—as Dr. Kimbrough has for me.

 

Biography:

Janicia Dugas is a fourth-year doctoral student at Howard University studying School Psychology. She was born and raised in Patterson, LA, where she developed a love for education and equality. Growing up in a small town, Janicia was exposed to hard work and tradition, which has molded her into the woman she is today. In the fall, Janicia will be a School Psychology Intern for the Anne Arundel Public School System.

Want to contribute to the We’re Psyched blog space? Send us your blog topic idea here.

 

What Does A Professor Look Like?

THIS IS WHAT A professor LOOKS LIKE3

 

By Kevin L. Nadal, PhD

 

As a child of poor immigrants from rural Philippines, I often heard about how my parents grew up without running water and limited electricity. They told my brothers and me stories about the things that they didn’t have while growing up, and how they overcame traumas of war and poverty. These anecdotes made me feel equally grateful and guilty, while also motivating me to strive for success. In fact, it is through these stories that I learned the importance of attaining a college education as a way of fulfilling our parents’ American dreams and somehow compensating for the historical trauma that my family had overcome for centuries.

 

When I was accepted into the University of California at Irvine, I declared a major of psychology. In retrospect, I did so for two basic reasons: 1) because I enjoyed an introductory psychology class I took in high school and 2) because I wanted to help people. I thought that when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree that I could be a psychologist, and I naively held onto that belief until my third year of college.

 

At some point during my college career, I realized that I had only had two high school teachers of color – a Filipina who taught World History and a Chicano who taught Religious Studies. Having gone to a high school that was 70% people of color (and about 50% Filipino American), being taught by White teachers (and learning through White lenses) was the norm. In college, my first few semesters were taught by White professors (although more than half of the students were Asian American), which made me feel like it would be the same type of educational experience.

 

However, sometime during my third year, I was introduced to my first professors of color – a Korean American woman who taught Political Science and a Black American man who taught Psychology. From that point on, I went out of my way to find other professors of color too. So, I signed up for the Multicultural Education class taught by Dr. Jeanett Castellanos – a class that would forever change my life.

 

Our classroom was filled mostly with students of color – each with unique perspectives and ideas. Dr. Castellanos had a way of connecting with each student – finding a way of making them feel special. Everything she had taught in the class was something I had great interest in. We talked about racism and immigration and privilege. I found myself participating more than I had in any other class. I wondered why I loved this class so much more than my psychology classes, and I realized that it was because we were talking about issues that were so meaningful to me.

 

Dr. Castellanos (or Dr. C as I affectionately called her) pulled me aside one day and asked me to meet with her in her office. At first, I thought I was getting in trouble (which I later learned is a common first reaction for any student of color or child of immigrants when a teacher asks for a personal meeting). However, she assured me that it was because she wanted to talk about my future. She asked me what I would be doing after college, and I told her I was going to be a psychologist. She asked me about where I would be going for graduate school, and I said, “What is graduate school?”

 

She sweetly replied: “Well you’re going to have to go to graduate school if you want to become a psychologist.”

 

I was dumbfounded; I had no idea.

 

She continued: “Well, I think you should get a Ph.D.”

 

“You mean medical school? I don’t want to be a doctor.”

 

Smiling, she responded, “Well, you would be a different type of doctor. You’d have a doctorate.”

 

What I remember most about that conversation is that she did not shame me; instead, she educated me. She taught me about what I needed to do to get into graduate school. She recommended that I get my Master’s degree first, so that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. She told me to apply for the Ronald E. McNair program and another undergraduate research program – which were both designed to ensure that students like me were aware of the resources and opportunities to succeed. I got into both.

 

In my senior year, Dr. C pulled out the brochures of the programs that she thought I should apply for. (The internet was not as sophisticated back then, so very little information was available online). I chose a handful of schools that seemed interesting, and each sent back big catalogues with applications. I wrote my essays about how I wanted to be a Filipino American professor and how I wanted to study Filipino American psychology.

 

When I got my first acceptance letter, I was absolutely shocked; I thought there had been a mistake. As a few more rolled in, I was still in disbelief. While this would continue to be a theme in my life – that any success I have is somehow a mistake – Dr. C assured me that I deserved all of those acceptances. She helped me navigate my decision of where to go, and for twenty years, she continued to be someone who I could reach out to for support and guidance.

 

Experiences like these are why it has become so important for me to ensure that young people of color, particularly those with multiple marginalized intersectional identities, could indeed recognize that they, too, could be become professors. Perhaps many of us do not know what is possible because we don’t have exposure to professors or others who look like us. Perhaps many of us are used to seeing White people as our teachers, authority figures, and celebrity role models, that we don’t recognize that we, too, can be those same influential figures. As my good friend Dr. Silvia Mazzula always says, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

 

Ten years later, after attaining a Master’s degree and a doctorate, I actually became a tenure-track assistant professor. The only problem was that I was still one of the few professors of color in my department, one of two queer people, and definitely the only Filipino American. Though I had the same (and arguably more) credentials than my peers, I was used to being talked down to by my older White male colleagues or being asked “Where is the professor?” when I started lecturing on the first day of class. So not only is visibility important to encourage young people of color to enter the academy, but it is also important for us to change the face, the narrative, and the norm of academia.

 

Today, Dr. Mazzula and I continue to work on different projects to enhance visibility of people of color within academia – from the Latina Researchers Network to the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network. More recently, we’ve promoted the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAProfessorLooksLike to show the faces of academia – or at least the faces that we often don’t see. No longer should we be comfortable with the status quo of having only White professors. No longer should we be complicit in allowing our future generations to believe that they cannot achieve their goals. While there could definitely be more of us, we do exist. And we are fierce, fabulous, loud, and proud.

 

Nadal Blog Post

 

Biography:

Dr. Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal is a Professor of Psychology at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate Center at the City University of New York. He received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University in New York City and is one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggressions , or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people; and other marginalized groups. He has published over 100 works on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education. A California-bred New Yorker, he was named one of People Magazine’s hottest bachelors in 2006; he once won an argument with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor”; and he was even once a Hot Topic on ABC’s “The View”. He has been featured in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, HGTV, Philippine News, and The Filipino Channel. He is the author of eight books including Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice (2011, John Wiley and Sons), That’s So Gay: Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (2013, APA Books), and Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress (2018, APA Books). He was the first openly gay President of the Asian American Psychological Association and the first person of color to serve as the Executive Director of the Center for LGBTQ Studies. He is a National Trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and a co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color National Network. He has delivered hundreds of lectures across the United States, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol. He has won numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest.

 

This is What Psychology Looks Like: Dr. Celeste Malone

Welcome to the first post in our new blogspace, We’re Psyched!the purpose of this space is for undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs to share engaging topics surrounding new research, current social issues and timely thinkpieces related to women of color in the field.

By Dwayne M. Bryant (School Psychology Doctoral Student, Howard University)

As a current student in the school psychology program at Howard University. Dr. Malone has served as an instructor and advisor to me over the last three years. She is an assistant professor and coordinator for the school psychology program. In this role she has guided many students in their pursuit of finding their passion in school psychology related research. Since 2014, Dr. Malone has added a spark to the program by engaging with students and building strong relationships with community leaders.

Another important role she serves is the Field Placement Coordinator. In this role she screens and places students in schools and other community support programs to provide practical experience as future psychologists. She works extremely hard to set an example for students to uphold ethical guidelines and to practice with a level of professionalism. Currently, she is the only African American female faculty member within the school psychology program.

In 2012, she earned her Ph.D. from Temple University, in school psychology. Here is where she developed a passion for research and to use research to make informed decisions related to practice. A large portion of her research focuses on multicultural and diversity issues embedded in the training and practice of school psychology. and her dissertation examined the personal and professional characteristics related to the development of multicultural competence in school psychology trainees (Howard University School of Education, 2017).

By having a faculty member that is so involved in the training process, it ensures that our students will be properly prepared as they enter the workforce. In addition to her service she is a very active member in several professional psychology organizations (National Association of School Psychologists, Maryland Association of School Psychology Association & the American Psychological Association). In 2017, she was selected as the strategic liaison for professional information services on the National Association of School Psychologist Board of Directors. It is an honor for me to learn from her and it is equally an honor for me to highlight her as a model for an ideal psychologist.

 

Want to contribute to the We’re Psyched blog space? Send us your blog topic idea here.

 

References

Howard University School of Education . (2017). Retrieved from Howard University : https://education.howard.edu/spotlights/dr-celeste-malone

 

Biography:

Dwayne Bryant is a fourth-year doctoral student at Howard University studying School Psychology. His research interests are social media and digital technology. Most recently he gained experience in providing psychotherapy at a behavioral health clinic in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This experience provided him with a sense of confidence in his field of study.  Over the last two years he has worked on research projected gear towards the advancement of women in STEM fields. He is currently working as an intern in the APA Public Interest Directorate on the issue of women and STEM. He has a passion for advocacy and fairness for all people. In the future, he plans to open a private practice and a learning and recreation center in his hometown of Oak City, NC.

Let’s Talk About Sex — After 60

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By Christina Pierpaoli Parker, MA (Geropsychology Doctoral Student, University of Alabama)

 

 

Science has started to pay attention to what happens between the sheets after 60, especially as medical advances permit us to live longer and healthier lives. Emerging research shows that older adults get busier than we think, finding that many adults remain sexual well into their 90s. As with other periods of development, sex in later life improves quality of life, mood, and health.

 

The Problem

But sex after 60 still has its consequences. Spikes in sexually transmitted disease (STDs) among older adults illustrate that. Compared to younger folks, older adults know less about STDs, underestimate their risk of infection, and practice safe sex less often. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reflect this, reporting that adults over 50 represent 15% of new HIV infections. By 2020, upwards of 70% of persons living with HIV will be 50 or older. Other STDs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, primary and secondary syphilis, show similar increases in older groups.

 

What’s going on?

Experts offer two explanations: (1) Treatment advances, such as antiretroviral therapy, have enabled already infected adults to live longer, inflating prevalence; and (2) the number of new infections (incidence) among older adults is increasing.

 

Fine, but why are adults becoming infected at all?

Growth in new infections altogether means recognizing that sex doesn’t retire after 60. Complex interactions of biopsychosocial factors underlie the incidence of STDs among older adults.

 

Biological factors. With normal aging, older adults experience changes in immune function, increasing their vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases. For example, the number and maturity of their T- cells—white blood cells that help fight infection—decrease, depressing immune responsiveness and aiding transmission.  Systemic reductions in testosterone and estrogen can thin the vaginal and anal mucosae and reduce vaginal lubrication, leaving many older men and women susceptible to tears during sex that can facilitate viral entry.

 

Psychological & behavioral factors. Older adults underestimate their risk for contacting sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study comparing actual and perceived sexual risk found that older adults with the greatest risk of contracting STDs were also the group least aware of their vulnerability. Cohort differences surrounding the 1960s rise of penicillin to treat STDs like syphilis may skew older adults’ identification with risky sexual behavior, explaining low rates of condom use among boomers especially. The widespread availability of erectile dysfunction medications in a climate of shifting divorce and dating patterns in later life— when menopause hits and pregnancy ends— have intersected to create more opportunities for sex and infection.

 

Sociocultural factors. Of course, older adults aren’t entirely to blame. Stereotypes, taboos, and biases about aging and sexuality perpetuate misconceptions surrounding late life sex, trickling down into clinical practice. For example, physician-initiated sexual history taking remains suboptimal among older adults, despite CDC recommendations requiring patients of all ages to receive comprehensive STI/STD education and evaluation. A powerful study revealed that few men (38%) and even fewer women (22%) had discussed sex with a physician since age 50, consistent with findings describing the inverse relationship of age and frequency of sexual health discussions. Other studies simply find that practitioners feel uncomfortable initiating sexual health discussions with older adults.  Prevailing interpretations of these findings conclude that practitioners’ attitudes and beliefs about sex in later life may stem from stereotypes of aging and sexuality, rather than experiences with, or explicit education about, late life sexuality.

 

Where do we begin? A call to action

Sex researchers and educators alike have long pointed to the positive contributions of sex education to healthy sexual attitudes and behavior, but adult-specific models remain breathtakingly scarce. Psychologists must therefore work to develop, implement, and evaluate adult sex education protocols for practitioners and older adults on:

  • Increasing knowledge about sexual health and functioning, as well as their changes, in later life;
  • Growing understanding of the biopsychosocial contributions to sexual risk in older adulthood; and
  • Promoting growth in physician and patient comfort to discuss sexual concerns

 

Recent precedent supports this as a good starting point: internal medicine residents who received three brief 30-minute tutorials on sexual history taking demonstrated improved documentation of older adults’ sexual histories than those who did not.

 

Steps you can take right now

We’ve got a long way to go before the paradigm shifts. Here’s what you can do to nudge it:

  1. Pause to assess, recognize, and reflect on your biases. What attitudes and beliefs do you have about late life sexuality? Where do they come from and how do they serve you? How and why should you challenge them?
  2. Practice the kind of sex you’d encourage your child or loved one to have. Sex that’s safe, consensual, and well lubricated.
  3. Have the knowledge and courage to ask questions. If you’re a health care provider working with older folks, ask about their sexual concerns; research says adults appreciate it. If you’re an older adult, share your sexual concerns with your health care provider—a competent professional will work with you or direct you to someone who can.
  4. Learn more. Explore the references included throughout this piece to get more (scientifically sound) information.
  5. Embrace sexuality as a lifelong, developmental process that improves with age. Isn’t that more fun, anyway?

 

 

 

Biography:

Christina Pierpaoli Parker, MA, is a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Geropsychology doctoral program at the University of Alabama under the co-mentorship of Drs. Forrest Scogin and Martha R. Crowther. Her research and clinical work explore the intersection of older adults’ physical and psychological health, focusing on the adjustment to and behavioral management of chronic health conditions (e.g., HIV, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis). Current interests include developing psychoeducational interventions for understanding, treating, and improving sexual dysfunction in later life. Christina’s work has been published in the Journals of Aging & Health, Sex & Marital Therapy, and The Clinical Gerontologist and presented at international conferences. She translates her academic research for Eng(aging), her widely acclaimed blog on Psychology Today, which has landed her interviews as aging expert on The Psychology Podcast with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman and The Aging Literacy Podcast with Dr. Bill Thomas. Her forthcoming book, Trixxx Aren’t Just For Kids, written with Dr. Elizabeth DiNapoli, explores the science and stories of sex in later life.

 

This is Why Social Media is the Secret to Success in Student Engagement

Social media competition. Raised hands trying to catch flying like signs / flat editable vector illustration, clip art

This article is cross-posted on APA’s Psych Learning Curve and GradPsych blogs.
Over the last few years as a School Psychology doctoral student, I have begun to experiment with various social media and technology platforms with hopes to improve efficiency and service delivery. I have found that the attention and information consumption of youth are structured into small but high-volume increments of time. Each social media platform serves its own purpose in the lives of our youth and as educators we must utilize this knowledge to bridge the educational gaps that exist.

This has sparked my interest in how social media can be used effectively in the classroom and it has influenced my career choices for the future. Our ability to receive information is becoming more accessible with advances in technology.  As technology begins to affect different areas of our lives we must take charge and change our approach of receiving and presenting knowledge.

For those of us in the field of school psychology, a portion of our responsibility is to assess and evaluate each student’s ability to learn and acquire knowledge. Just as technology grows and develops, our understanding of how students learn must follow.  When we think of education, most of us picture a teacher lecturing from a PowerPoint or a carefully outlined agenda with minimal student interaction. In the traditional sense, educating students has been viewed as a way of transmitting information from an all-knowing source (the teacher) to students waiting to be enlightened. In most cases this idea still resonates, but the way in which students are engaged has vastly changed over the last ten years.

A vast amount of social media platforms have been created over the past decade; Vine, SnapChat, Instagram, and Periscope to name just a few. With the use of these platforms, more people are using social media as a means of communicating, business, entertainment, and yes, even education. More students are engaged by what they can see or interact with, on an individual or group level. This type of environment promotes a more positive outlook on learning and presents a parallel between how students learn and how they use technology.

Research suggests that when technology and social media are used appropriately student engagement and overall learning are enhanced (Lvala & Gachago, 2012). Due to such findings, researchers and educators have questioned how these findings can promote positive learning environments for students. Is technology friend or foe? The emergence of social media has also increased the rate of information exchange both socially and academically. It has grown more common for individuals to use social platforms to exchange knowledge and create safe spaces for self-expression. With social media becoming a highly used platform, educational uses have been deemed to show positive signs of academic engagement (Lvala & Gachago, 2012).

It is my belief that technology and social media are friends to the classroom. I encourage all readers to investigate the positive impact of social media and digital technology in the classroom. Also, we must understand the difference between educational technology and general digital technology. Social media is a common virtual space that most individuals understand, especially the youth.  If one can properly utilize the key elements of social media, students will become more engaged with course content. If you are a non-believer ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you uncomfortable using social media in your academic curriculum? If so, why?
  2. Have you been trained to use technology as an educator?
  3. Do you use social media in your personal life?
  4. Do you believe that social media and digital technology are a distraction? Why or why not?

 

References

Lvala, E., & Gachago, D. (2012). Social media for enhancing student engagement: The use of Facebook and blogs at a University of Technology. SAJHE , 26(1), 152-166.

 

Biography:

Dwayne Bryant is a fourth-year doctoral student at Howard University studying School Psychology. His research interests are social media and digital technology. Most recently he gained experience in providing psychotherapy at a behavioral health clinic in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This experience provided him with a sense of confidence in his field of study.  Over the last two years he has worked on research projected gear towards the advancement of women in STEM fields. He is currently working as an intern in the APA Public Interest Directorate on the issue of women and STEM. He has a passion for advocacy and fairness for all people. In the future, he plans to open a private practice and a learning and recreation center in his hometown of Oak City, NC.

What High School Psychology Students Told Us About the Future of Healthy Aging

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By Maggie Syme, PhD, MPH (Member, APA Committee on Aging & Assistant Professor of Gerontology, Kansas State University)

 

In the past year, high school psychology students embarked upon an essay to describe an “Aging World,” the theme of this year’s Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) annual essay competition for high school psychology students. Ultimately, four students from high schools around the world were named winners, but the broader impact was that a bevy of young people learned about how to age well and how to support this goal for our current aging population. The potential contribution of younger to older generations is enormous, and it has been truly inspiring to see the passion and ingenuity with which these high school students approach an aging world.

It was so inspiring that the APA Committee on Aging, which provided input to this year’s TOPPS competition, interviewed the essay winners. The winners provided insight into their experience and the implications for the psychology of aging.

Three thousand words on aging—this is no easy task. Just ask our winners. Each winning student (see below for names and affiliations) commented on the magnitude of the project, and some reflected on how their peers shied away from the task. Yet, each one appreciated the challenge and found clear benefits to participating.

 

Poorvi Dua, now at University of California – Berkeley, indicated that the size did not intimidate her, but instead the challenge was intriguing.

“The second [my teacher] mentioned it I got really excited, and knew if I put work into this it would be the coolest thing.”

 

Wendi Ji, a senior at Shen Zhen College of International Education, also saw the importance of the topic:

“I usually don’t want to participate in essay contests…but the topic really grabbed my attention.”

 

Grace Rhine, now a freshman at Millersville University, stated that the challenge was part of her motivation for doing the essay:

“I really wanted to prepare myself for the writings in college that I would do…It was really helpful for me.”

 

Similarly, Sophia Song, a senior at Seoul International School, indicated that the contest was a “golden opportunity” and further stated,

“I learned a lot about how to format a research paper, which will help me a lot later on.”

 

The winners were especially thankful for their high school psychology teachers in providing the opportunity. Several mentioned their teachers as an integral source of support in the process, and were appreciative of the formatting guidance, as this was the first APA research paper most had written. When asked about other sources of inspiration and guidance, several mentioned their grandparents or other key figures in their lives who had illustrated the importance of healthy aging.

“I thought often about them [grandparents] in my essay, and I asked them a lot about the concepts I explored to see if it was applicable to them.” Grace also pointed to the influence of her grandparents stating, “I’m really close with all my grandparents, and I thought about how their life will be in the future as they age and want them to have a good life.”

 

Wendi spoke about her grandparents as “fighters,” stating,

“They had to fight off against all the negative images they had seen in the media and stereotyping comments about them. [A family member] used the ‘Because you are old…’ a lot. But the truth is, my grandparents never listen when the sentence starts with those words.”

 

In contrast, Poorvi mentioned that she was highly influenced by her English teacher (and mentor), whose wife developed Alzheimer’s disease during Poorvi’s high school career.

“I saw the process he was going through and the mental toll it took on him. And, just how big it became…That really inspired me to write this essay, to see how we can improve the aging process.”

 

In fact, Poorvi is now studying molecular biology and psychology in college with hopes to go to medical school and do research on neurobiology, the brain, and Alzheimer’s. She reported that she has joined a local club at UC-Berkeley, Action for Alzheimer’s, and will be volunteering in a care center as part of the club activities.

 

The other winners also mentioned an intention to “follow up” on aging in some way. Grace, who is studying to be an art therapist, wants to be able to help people across the lifespan through her work. Sophia aims to take a few aging-related courses in psychology when she goes to college. Wendi also indicated her intent for continuing to study aging.

“After researching the aging topic, I find it very hard to just forget about it and go on studying other subjects, just because aging is such an important issue. I want to dedicate myself to helping elderly citizens fight off the negative mass media images and stereotypes.”

 

When talking about the aging-specific aspects of the essay, each winner felt they grasped key points about healthy aging as a result.

For example, Poorvi was captivated by the life course perspective and the real-life impact of psychological and social concepts on biological aging.

“One thing that really surprised me was how much of your early life can play a role in the process of aging. I knew you should exercise and eat healthy, but these studies actually show a direct correlation between things like stress and the length of telomeres in your DNA.”

 

Grace commented,

“I never really thought about it [aging] before, more than just the biological standpoint. Here, I thought about the different experiences people have in retirement, moving into a nursing home, and the impact on that person.”

 

Sophia also commented on broadening her understanding of aging.

“One thing that stood out to me was subjective happiness. We can help older adults have this through gaining independence, autonomy, and from the simplest things like having transportation.”

 

Wendi focused on the psychological impact on healthy aging, stating,

“The overall take-away message was most of the time people had choices, they had choices to lead a healthy and positive life in their 60s and 70s. But the choices originate from their psychology, their attitude and ways of interpreting life events. If we can help them realize the choices and encourage them to make the ones beneficial to their physical and mental health, the word ‘aging’ may finally be free of associated negative emotions fear and worry.”

 

The winners were asked to consider why people their age (or younger) should be interested in aging. What’s the need, if it is decades away?

“It’s going to happen to all of us, sooner or later,” stated Grace.

 

Similarly, Poorvi asserted,

“Every single day, every single second that you are alive, you are aging. You have to be conscious of the choices you are making now because they will play a role down the line. Very small things you wouldn’t think play a role, the effects are amplified as you go along.”

 

Sophia agreed, stating,

“Aging research is an investment for us as we grow up. It’s crucial to understand where we will be in a few decades.”

 

Wendi emphasized that our actions as younger people make an impact on today’s older adults.

“Young people’s attitude and actions towards elderly citizens impose a significant influence upon the expectations and attitudes of elderly people towards aging.” She further stated that, “as responsible citizens, young people should care and help improve the welfare of this very important group who have contributed so much to our society.”

 

Each winner also specified what people in younger generations could (and should) be doing to get involved with aging issues. All of them suggested methods on a larger scale (e.g., volunteering, getting involved in research), but they also mentioned person-level interventions.

“The easiest way is to get a more personal connection with your grandparents, and ask them about aging in general and how each of these things apply to them,” suggested Sophia.

 

The “gap” between older and younger generations was mentioned by Poorvi, stating,

“There’s very young people, and there’s the very old and it feels marginalized. It is a good idea to get them more involved, and there are studies about this. It is better for people in older care homes if they’re surrounded by young/lively people; it boosts their psychological health.”

 

Grace also emphasized the role of personal, intergenerational connections by stating,

“Getting younger people involved in different community programs can integrate the different generations. I’m really involved in my church, and there is a large older population there. I like to get to know them and spend time with them.”

 

Wendi adds,

“They can start by not stereotyping the elderly as ‘lonely, grumpy, and socially withdrawn,’ and hopefully convince others to do the same.” She also suggested the importance of family support for our older relatives. “Consider spending more family time with elderly members in the family. They have the most wisdom and life experience, not to mention the importance of family support for elderly people.”

 

Overall, the essay impacted each of these students in unique ways. Some gained much-needed college preparation, and gained self-efficacy after tackling that ever-challenging APA formatting. Some solidified a previous interest into a potential career pathway. But each one came away with a more profound understanding of healthy aging and the immediate impacts on society. This is summed up in the following from Poorvi:

“Writing this essay made me realize how important this field of study is…All the research in this field is incredibly important because every study is going to be the scientific background for which more programs and laws are created that are geared toward helping older people. It’s underappreciated, but it’s incredibly important in our society because it is so fundamental.”

 

The four winning essays are available to download and read here: http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/topss/student-competition.aspx. We encourage you to take a look at how these high schools students have captured the challenges and solutions to aging well in our current world.

 

Of note, TOPSS provides students with a writing contest opportunity annually. See this link for guidelines and previous award winners. They also have an award for high school psychology teachers that have innovative lesson plans in psychology. See http://www.apa.org/about/awards/teaching-excellence.aspx for more information and how to nominate your teacher and/or colleague for this award.

 

2017 Essay Winners

Poorvi Dua (Xavier College Preparatory; Phoenix, AZ)

Grace Rhine (Penn Manor High School; Millersville, PA)

Sophia Song (Seoul International School; Seoul, South Korea)

Wendi Ji (Shen Zhen College of International Education, Guandong, China)

 

Biography:

Maggie Syme, PhD, is an assistant professor in gerontology in the Center on Aging and serves as a faculty member in the School of Family Studies and Human Ecology at Kansas State University. Her background is in counseling psychology and public health, with a doctoral degree from the University of Kansas and MPH from San Diego State University. Her clinical postdoctoral training was concentrated in geropsychology and neuropsychology as well as a research postdoc in cancer health disparities and aging. Prior to coming to K-State, Dr. Syme was a Research Assistant Professor at San Diego State University working on grant-funded research from the Alzheimer’s Association on sexual decision-making among cognitively compromised older adults. Her research interests are centered on sexual health in later life and across the lifespan, sexual decision-making in long-term care residents, and person-centered long-term care.

 


Filed under: Aging Tagged: healthy aging, high school psychology, TOPSS essay contest