I applied to the Dalmas Taylor Summer Minority Policy Fellowship in hopes of partaking in meaningful and timely work with SPSSI and APA, while getting a glimpse of my future career working in policy. My time in DC this summer has allowed me to engage in several opportunities that align perfectly with my research interests focusing on racial/gender identity, implicit bias, and discrimination.
While working at SPSSI, my schedule loosely fell into three categories: 1) government/policy related hearings, briefings, and talks, 2) policy-related research and 3) individual meetings and networking. To put it simply, No single day ever looked the same. A typical Monday might involve sitting in the office, drafting a public comment on behalf of SPSSI. While a demanding Tuesday could require hurrying to the Hill to catch a 3pm congressional hearing after leaving a 10 am speech given by a state governor across town. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace, yet flexible nature of this fellowship.
As the Dalmas Taylor fellow, I was able to attend congressional briefings to learn more about a range of issues including gender dysmorphia, domestic violence, and funding for higher education. I also got a better sense of the federal legislative process through meetings with individuals working for congress and federal agencies. I was also able to construct a public comment on behalf of SPSSI in response to the Federal Commission on School Safety’s (FCSS) proposal to implement armed guards in schools. Complementing this letter, I presented a brief speech relaying my ideas at a listening session hosted by the FCSS at the Department of Education Headquarters on June 6th. In addition, I was able to attend the 2018 SPSSI conference, Bridges to Justice: Building Coalitions and Collaborations Within and Beyond Psychology. At the conference, I attended a policy workshop focused on how researchers can effectively use social media to disseminate important work, engage key-figures in the policy arena, and communicate policy-relevant research to the public.
While at APA, I worked on a diverse range of policy topics including women’s reproductive rights, poverty and work requirements, and disparities in school discipline. I had the opportunity to establish a briefing document and draft multiple public comments on behalf of APA addressing these important issues. Inspired by a talk that I attended at the Lab @ DC on maternal mortality rates, I wrote a blog on the racial disparities and the rising maternal mortality crisis in the US. The most intensive part of my time at APA was my participation in the Minority Fellowship Program’s Psychology Summer Institute. Throughout the duration of a week, I was able to connect with knowledgeable faculty within the field of psychology, present my research to my peers, and gain knowledge from a diverse set of panelists. I also gained advocacy experience by meeting with congress members from my home district and discussing the importance of diversity in mental healthcare.
All in all, my time as the 2018 Dalmas Taylor Fellow was more than I could imagine. In a short amount of time, I’ve learned a lot about the role of empirical research in policy and how my own work can contribute meaningfully to addressing important social issues. I am grateful for the opportunity to establish solid relationships that will ultimately allow me to transition into my future career in policy. The people that I’ve met and the skills that I’ve developed will allow me to continue to do research and policy work that betters the lives of underrepresented racial minorities.