Starting from my high school days, I always found the field of psychology to be fascinating, but at the time, I never considered how I could create a career from this interest. I began to see what a career in psychology could hold thanks to various courses in psychology, biology and neuroscience and conversations with professors during my undergraduate years. Even so, the options seemed limitless with so many exciting topics to explore! As a senior, I signed up for a Behavioral Pharmacology course simply because I enjoyed previous courses with that professor. However, it only took a few lectures for me to realize that I had found the niche I was looking for.
From that point, I knew I wanted to be an addiction psychologist, and I continued to seek experiences to help develop my interest in the study of alcohol/substance use and addictions. I first began working as a post-baccalaureate research assistant at the University of Florida, which gave me hands-on experience with what addiction research can look like. Now, as a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Boston University, I have continued to grow as an addiction researcher by studying substance use from both a research and clinical perspective. I even had the chance to serve as a teaching fellow for a Behavioral Pharmacology course as a graduate student, bringing me full circle to my initial introduction to addiction research. It was particularly special to share my passion for addiction psychology with those undergraduate students (and potential future colleagues) given how influential that course was for me during my undergraduate training.
I say all of this to acknowledge how vital our experiences as trainees can be in cultivating our professional identities. Mine have led me to the study of addiction psychology and helped me to develop my own program of research investigating various cognitive and self-control processes that contribute to the initiation and maintenance of addictive behaviors and how that information can help develop and tailor interventions to enhance treatment outcomes and recovery.
Throughout my different training experiences, my time as an APA Division 50 member has been a constant, and it has been invaluable in shaping my identity as an addiction psychologist and connecting me to others with the same dedication to the field. I initially became involved in Division 50 when attending my first Collaborative Perspective on Addiction conference in 2019. I can remember how inspiring it was to hear the range of fascinating research being done. At the same time, it was an incredibly supportive environment that allowed me to connect with addiction researchers and clinicians in various stages of their careers. CPA has historically held wonderful student-focused events like the student/mentor luncheon and the student speed-networking event. I look forward to helping organize similar events as we gather for CPA in Albuquerque, NM on March 23-25, 2023!
And now, I am honored to give back to this division as the newest Student Representative! My ultimate goal as Student Representative is to grow our network of student members and further develop resources tailored to the student experience to meet the needs of our student members. To that point, there are currently a number of exciting student-led initiatives being developed within the division’s Student Committee, which I co-lead with Roselyn Peterson, our Senior Student Representative. If you are a current student member, we are actively seeking new committee members to help bring these initiatives to life. We meet once per month as a committee, and members have a hand in organizing and implementing initiatives like the new research and clinical workshops and the annual virtual student conference. In addition to our Student Committee, there are several other exciting Division 50 committees that students play an active role in. I previously served as a student member of the Outreach Committee, which was a great way to get involved with the division and meet members that I otherwise may not have had the chance to connect with. If you would like to learn more about the Division 50 committees or you have any interest in getting involved with either the Student Committee or any other Division 50 committees, you can contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org), Roselyn Peterson (email@example.com), or the Division 50 committee chairs directly.
I look forward to an exciting term serving as Student Representative! If you are a student and you’d like to learn more about the opportunities within Division 50 or you have any suggestions, you can contact either myself or Roselyn as your student representatives.