Feature

This year's elected APAGS officials come from different backgrounds and have myriad professional interests. But they have one common goal — to help other grad students navigate the field, and grow personally and professionally.

Emily Voelkel, chair-elect

Emily VoelkelNow in her fourth year in the University of Houston's counseling psychology doctoral program, Voelkel is focused on trauma and women's issues, with a special interest in military sexual trauma. She is interning with the Cincinnati VA and hopes to continue this work after she graduates since it provides the variety of clinical, research and management duties she thrives on. Most of all, she gets to serve the population she loves: veterans who have served the country.

Her APAGS priorities: Voelkel's main goal as APAGS chair is to facilitate the discussion among students, universities and APA regarding graduate student needs. "I want to get a good understanding, by talking to lots of different students from all over the country, of what psych students feel are the bigger issues in psychology today." Her priorities are addressing the internship crisis, career planning, and financial aid and funding issues. She encourages students to email her and any of the other five elected officials and take part in the conversation.

Kicking back: In her free time, Voelkel likes to garden, read for pleasure, cook and spend time with her husband. "I also like playing with our 1-year-old puppy."

Candice Crowell, member at large, education focus

Candice CrowellAfter a brief career as a high school English teacher, Crowell came to psychology to study sexuality and sexual health, particularly as it relates to cross-cultural issues. She is a fourth-year counseling psychology student at the University of Georgia, where her research focuses on the choices people make that affect their sexual health.

Her APAGS priorities: Crowell is particularly interested in drawing attention to the psychology programs that are doing exceptionally well and those that could use some improvement. "I'd love to use the strongest programs as models, highlighting them at convention or on the APAGS website," she says. "And for those that could use improvement, or where students don't feel heard, I'd like to advocate for them as well."

Once in office, she hopes to enhance the use of social media to communicate with students across the country. In the meantime, she encourages students to email her their thoughts.

Well connected: In her free time, Crowell writes in her journal, blogs, reads for fun, spends time with her dog and discusses "the same few topics on Facebook with the same group of people over and over!" she admits. Throughout her life, she has mentored young women and is working to set up a mentoring group in her Atlanta community.

Daniel Reimer, convention committee chair

Daniel ReimerPsychology's vast range of topics is what attracted Reimer to the field. "You can learn about things as small as neurons to things as large as entire cultures without leaving the realm of psychology," says Reimer, a fifth-year student in behavioral systems analysis at the University of Nevada, Reno. His specialty is organizational systems, including health-care systems and health education.

His APAGS priorities: Reimer wants to make APA's Annual Convention a more meaningful experience for graduate students by helping them be more active participants in the discussion. "Students spend so much time learning the facts, but less time learning how to apply them," he says. He wants convention programs to better bridge the gap between facts and applications. Reimer also wants convention programming that can help graduate students improve their quality of life. "We all know we need to sleep more and exercise, but let's get students some tools to really do this," he says.

Adventure seeker: Since he spends so much time working behind a desk, in his free time he pursues more adventurous activities. "I like to scuba dive, and I went skydiving for the first time this year," says Reimer. He also works with Project ECHO Nevada, an organization that provides continuing medical education and training to rural health-care providers, and with the Institute for Senior Living, a think tank focused on innovation for senior living services.

Laura Reid Marks, member at large, communications focus

Laura Reid MarksA fourth-year counseling psychology student at Purdue University, Reid Marks's primary interests are mental and sexual health disparities. She's interested in determining the factors that may play a role, such as socioeconomic status, racism and discrimination. "I am passionate about social justice and advocacy in my research, clinical and leadership work," she says, which is part of why she wanted to be an APAGS rep.

Her APAGS priorities: Reid Marks is especially interested in helping students with their professional development. "I think many graduate students go through their programs without total awareness of what opportunities exist outside them," she says. She wants to inform students about the choices they have in scholarships, internships, externships and, of course, professions.

Self-care: Spending time with her husband, family and friends is important to Reid Marks, but so is taking a little time for her own well-being. "I love tennis," she says. "For the last two semesters, I've set aside time twice a week to take a tennis class — not only to improve my tennis skills, but also to intentionally take time for self-care."

Alexa Lopez, science committee chair

Alexa LopezLopez, a fifth-year student in experimental psychology at the University of Vermont, is interested in substance use disorders, contingency management and other health-related behaviors. She aims to represent all of the field's research-minded psychology students.

Her APAGS priorities: Lopez hopes to help students in research programs. "APAGS is a loud voice for psychology graduate students," she says, "but oftentimes, it's thought of as focusing on clinical students. So it's really my goal to be in as much contact with students in research-based programs as I can, so they feel that their voices are heard and that APAGS is a home for them, too." A particular goal for her is identifying funding and loan-repayment strategies for research students.

Outdoor enthusiast: "I have been a skier for over 20 years, and I also enjoy spending time with friends and family on the lake or at the beach," she says.

Sabrina Esbitt, advocacy coordinating team chair

Sabrina EsbittA fifth-year clinical psychology student at the Ferkauf Graduate School at Yeshiva University, Esbitt's focus is on behavioral medicine, particularly primary-care psychology in integrated health-care settings. She enjoys working with underserved populations, including veterans, and will be working at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System for her internship next year.

Her APAGS priorities: Esbitt wants to help psychology students appreciate the importance of advocacy on behalf of the field. "People always ask, 'Why does policy matter to me?' … Psychology is a profession in huge transition — it can change and change fast. And because we're trained as clinicians, researchers, teachers and to conceptualize mental health issues on individual and population levels, we have really unique things to add to health care." It's these multiple competencies, she says, that will enable psychologists to be strong leaders in health-care reform, as it continues to become more integrative and evidence-based.

Head chef: Esbitt spends every free minute she has in her kitchen, which she says is a typical, tiny New York City kitchen with near-antique appliances. "And the floor of my kitchen is so slanted that I have to constantly turn things in the oven to make sure they cook evenly. The upside is that I also have access to every ingredient across every culture. I may not have time to travel — I can't go to China — but I can cook Chinese food."

Alice G. Walton, PhD, is a writer in New York City.