Embarking on Social Change: A Clinician and Researcher's Journey as the 2023 Dalmas A. Taylor Memorial Summer Minority Policy Fellow
Ty A. Robinson, Counseling Psychology Student, University of Houston
Being named the 2023 Dalmas A. Taylor Memorial Summer Minority fellow has been a rewarding experience. Before my tenure as the Taylor fellow, I actively contributed to social change in my community by organizing educational and mental health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic and spearheading initiatives that addressed racism and discrimination in academia. Upon discovering the Taylor fellowship and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), I felt they could be a nurturing home where I could further harness my psychological training to lead and inspire social change.
My journey as the Taylor fellow commenced at the Minority Fellowship Program's (MFP) Psychological Summer Institute (PSI) in D.C. There, I had the opportunity to work on my dissertation, receive invaluable mentorship from Dr. Michael Cunningham, participate in seminars covering diverse topics from cultural healing modalities to research result dissemination, meet with a Congressional aide to advocate for increased support and retention of scholars of color through expanding MFP resources, and cultivate meaningful connections with both my cohort and MFP staff. An important lesson I gained at the PSI is that pursuing social change through activism in our communities cannot be done alone.
Following PSI, I participated in SPSSI's annual conference in Denver, where I engaged in poster sessions and discussed disseminating results back to the community and developing new research projects that amplify marginalized voices. I actively took part in interactive discussions addressing the impact of anti-LGBTQ legislation on the health and well-being of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, I attended a policy workshop focusing on creating and disseminating policy-related pieces across diverse institutions. During this period, I delved into the virtual aspect of the fellowship, which involved attending virtual events hosted by the Urban Institute, National Academies, and Center for American Progress. My fellowship journey concluded a week before the American Psychological Association in D.C., where I had the opportunity to meet past Taylor fellows, hear about their experiences, and learn more about avenues I can take as a doctoral student in social policy.
Currently, I am actively involved in research projects that address critical issues related to discrimination, health disparities, substance use, and stigma. I aim to leverage insights gained from these projects to disseminate results to the community. Additionally, I am crafting an Op-Ed shedding light on the pervasive racism experienced by African American Ph.D. students in clinical and counseling psychology.
The Taylor Fellowship gave me the confidence, tools, and validation to move forward and seek more policy-related opportunities within the community. As a counseling psychology Ph.D. student, my experience as a Taylor fellow showed me that I can participate in policy-related discussions. I appreciate the opportunity and warm welcome into the SPSSI family and look forward to future collaborations.