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Congratulations to the 2022 GSC Essay Contest Winners!

Graduate Prize: London Williams, University of California Department of Education

For the essay:

Finding Alternatives for Western Imperialism in Higher Education: Unlocking the “door to a far larger view of the world than white America has ever known.”

London Williams is a rising second-year PhD student in the UCLA Department of Education, focusing on Higher Education and Organizational Change. Outside of classes, London serves as the Program Coordinator for the UCLA-HHMI Pathways to Success Program, a four-year academic support program for diverse groups of students majoring in STEM. This past year, London was also a Graduate Student Researcher for the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). This Fall, London will be an instructor for a University Studies course that was created to support first-year students as they transition to college.

London has previously received a BA in Psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a MA in Applied Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University, and a MA in Education from UCLA. London has a passion for working in higher education spaces to determine how to best support and advocate for historically excluded students, particularly those majoring in STEM. London is a mixed-methods researcher, but is excited about incorporating more qualitative inquiry, as well as, Black Feminism in STEM education research.

Undergraduate Prize: Julia Sebastien, Harvard Graduate School of Education

For the essay:

Mitig’s WigWam of Spiritual Needs: Re-envisioning Abraham Maslow’s legacy to Humanistic Psychology had he been born an Ojibwe male in the L’Anse Michigan reserve 

Julia Sebastien received her Honors Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies and Advanced Arts and Humanities from Western University, alongside Western's Double Major Gold Medal Award, in 2019. Afterwards (funded by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation’s Graduate Award), she pursued a second Honors BA at York University, specializing in Psychology to understand the cognitive, social and behavioral forces underlying people's interactions with media, cultural objects, and each other. Outside of class, Julia managed Dr. Jennifer Steele's Interpersonal Perception and Social Cognition lab and ran several media-psychological studies on the side, including a study of physically-distanced couples' virtual communications and satisfaction during COVID, and another on culturally diverse populations' experiences using e-mental health apps. Before graduating from this second BA this past summer, Julia was fortunate to present her prosocial research projects at multiple conferences, including APA, Life Improvement Science, and SPSSI. Julia is now pursuing her Master’s in Learning Design, Innovation and Technology at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, where she hopes to hone her knowledge of media psychology to improve the prosocial and educational impact of our media landscape. Her favorite pastimes include fitness, cooking, and theatrical plays with important social-emotional messages.




2022 GSC Essay Competition

Addressing The Legacy of White Supremacy and Western Dominance in Psychology

Recent calls to address the legacy of White Supremacy and Western dominance in the field of psychology have led to momentum to repair the historical wrongs committed against BIPOC communities. Yet, many BIPOC scholars and psychologists continue to reject the American Psychological Association (APA) 2021 “Apology to People of Color for APA’s Role in Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in U.S.,” citing the need for tangible forms of restorative justice and radical structural changes.

This writing competition aims to inspire students to explore psychology’s enduring legacy of White Supremacy and Western dominance in the field. Recent scholarly efforts have interrogated how the prevailing culture of psychology continues to valorize Western society, White culture, and White people to the detriment of communities of color. We welcome perspectives that can deeply reflect on and examine the historical injustices committed by the field and how to make reparations in order to move forward as future psychologists. 

Submissions can be in the form of critical, reflective, or analytical essays. Essays are limited to 800 words, excluding references. Essays must be written in APA format. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  1. Educational and psychological testing

  2. Medical models of illness

  3. Mental health diagnoses and conceptualization

  4. Professional development and career pathways

  5. White Supremacy culture in academia

  6. Colonized models of mentorship

  7. Scientific methodology

We welcome submission from international students and students from underrepresented groups including BIPOC, first-generation college, low-income, LGBTQ+ and students with disabilities.


  1. Applicants must be a current student at an undergraduate, masters, or PhD/PsyD program.

  2. Only one application can be submitted.

  3. Co-authored entries with other students are eligible.

  4. SPSSI membership is not required.


Essays will be published in the SPSSI newsletter The Forward. Winners will also be honored at the SPSSI summer conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • $300 for graduate student winner

  • $200 for undergraduate student winner

  • Two honorable mentions 


Entries will be evaluated by the GSC based on the following criteria: 1) review and critical analysis of research, 2) style and organization, 3) potential impact with respect to social issues.

DEADLINE: Thursday, May 5th 2022   The deadline has passed.


  1. Please use this online portal to submit your essays, which must be in a Word document file. You must select the "GSC Essay Contest" radio button on the online application form.

  2. Author name, institutional affiliation, contact information must be mentioned on the title page.

QUESTIONS: Reach out to the GSC Chair, Tina Lee here (

About the SPSSI Graduate Student Committee