This fellowship has enabled me to see the strength that can be drawn from connections and collaborations with multiple stakeholders, whether they are researchers, practitioners, or policy makers. The universal relevance of the issues that psychologists pursue puts us in the position of being an attractive advocacy partner for a wide array of groups, so despite the fact that SPSSI and APA are based in the field of psychology, they have been welcoming to all others who seek to advocate for human welfare, social justice, and the promotion of equality. As a result, my time here in Washington has allowed me to witness, and be a part of, collaborations with civil rights activists, nurses, teachers, army personnel, and police officers. My work has also included the translation of our field’s research into fact sheets that policy makers and the public are given access to, on topics ranging from social and emotional learning in children to the effects of immigrant detention on families. Writing is only part of the work; I have also attended congressional hearings and collation meetings on issues such as veteran care, diversity training in policing, health care reform, school bullying, and suicide prevention.
In addition to being included in on-going projects, this fellowship provided me with the opportunity to pursue my personal research goals. One such opportunity was an invitation by SPSSI’s current James Marshall Public Policy Scholar to get involved in the development of a position statement on human trafficking, a topic that is closely aligned with my strong commitment to social justice issues.
I take great pride in being a psychologist because our field pursues difficult questions that are fundamental to the betterment of society, and this fellowship has afforded me the privilege of giving that research a voice. If anyone can harness the power of our knowledge, it is the people I have met at SPSSI and APA. They are relentless in their pursuit of equality, improvement of mental health, civil rights, social justice, and a list of issues that are too long to mention. As the end of my time with SPSSI and APA on Capitol Hill draws near, I am confident that my trip back home is only the start of something equally exciting on the other “hillHill,”, Canada’s Parliament Hill. I’ve picked up the advocacy bug and plan to take it with me wherever I go!