The moment she started talking and telling me about her doctoral program, I was hooked. That day the clouds revealed rays of light, shining down on me, and I had found the ultimate doctoral program. After graduating from college it took me more than 8-years to find my calling and a discipline that would integrate my knowledge and experience. In 2007, I began a doctoral program with an emphasis on community psychology in the Psychology in the Public Interest Program at North Carolina State University. Since then, I have been exposed to a variety of experiences, individuals, and opportunities that have reinforced my decision and have aligned themselves with my professional goals. However, over the past four and half years I have had to explain what community psychology is and, on occasion, deal with individuals who would respond with “That sounds like social work” or “Isn’t that social psychology?” My adamant “no” followed by terms used from systems thinking and the ecological model left them still wondering “So what is community psychology again?” For me, I never second guessed my decision to pursue this degree or ever had an “identity” issue as a doctoral student in my program. I knew what I wanted and how the program would provide that. It was through my doctoral experience that I wanted to find ways to work with individuals that would continue to promote and advocate on behalf of community psychology and the myriad ways in which we contribute to shaping psychology and the larger world. How was I going to do that? First, I needed to apply for fellowships or other opportunities that would provide me with the platform to discuss my program and CP. Secondly, I needed to get in front of undergraduates and other prospective students and inform them about my discipline and focus. I also needed to apply the principles of community psychology and go out and make connections with community-based organizations. Use the principles and methods I have learned in courses, through conversations and training and apply them within a setting that required me to negotiate my role as a community psychologist. The struggle is not in my own validation, but in exposing people to a field that will lead communities towards innovation, transformation and liberation. I am constantly learning and wanted to share this blog space with other doctoral students and CPs. I do encourage each and every one of us to seek those spaces and, if they are not there, create them and push open the doors loudly so that people will know who and what we are.
Psychology in the Public Interest
North Carolina State University