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Power of the Student Voice

TheHealthPsychologistA Word from the Student Advisory Council

Jessica NaftalyJessica Naftaly, M.S.
Doctoral Student, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science


I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chair of the SfHP’s Student Advisory Council (SAC). I am a clinical psychology doctoral student at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. I have served on SAC for two years as the membership committee co-chair and one year as the chair-elect. I really enjoy being part of SAC and working with an amazing group of colleagues. The SfHP is my professional home. I hope that our initiatives as a council continue to cultivate a community for students interested in health psychology.

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My first order of business as the SAC president started a few days before my official start date at the APA Convention this summer where myself and members of the SfHP’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) witnessed history in the making at the APA Council of Representatives meeting. Did you know that graduate students do not have voting rights for APA government elections? Right now, graduate students do not have a voice in who is elected to lead us despite governing law affecting our education and training. Well that might soon change, during the conference the APA Council of Representatives voted to approve graduate student members voting rights in APA elections. The task force that spearheaded this vote initiation was the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) who advocate for the power of the student voice. SAC leadership also feel strongly about supporting the student voice and prior to the vote, SAC contacted the SfHP’s APA Council of Representatives encouraging a vote in favor of graduate student voting rights. Over 73% of APA’s Council of Representatives voted for graduate student voting rights. Due to the bylaws needing to be amended to create the “graduate student” membership category within APA, this now needs to be voted on by APA voting members. Our job advocating is not finished as current APA voting members will need to vote in favor of graduate student voting rights by a 2/3rds majority vote this upcoming November. The voting period will be open from November 1st-December 15th. We encourage all APA voting members to vote in favor of graduate student voting rights. For more information on this topic please visit.

It was very interesting to witness an APA Council of Representatives meeting as it is similar to what we might see in the Capital Building in Washington, DC. The APA Council of Representatives consists of members from 54 individual divisions, members from state, provincial, and territorial associations, and APA’s Board of Directors.1 The main job of the council is to approve policy changes and address the annual budget.2 APA Council of Representatives meetings are open to the public every year at APA and I highly recommend attending a meeting at the next APA convention.


SAC Initiatives for 2019-2020 Academic Year

We are very excited to continue providing multiple student resources over the upcoming year. The Past-Chair, Dr. Aviva Ariel-Donges recently sent out a SfHP Student Needs Assessment, of which gave us important information about how SAC can improve on providing specific resources to our student members (e.g., post-doc resources, learning specific intervention skills, working in an interprofessional setting, and funding to attend conferences). The Membership Committee has been working on running the campus representatives program. This year over 43 programs are represented! The Diversity Committee continues to publish annual diversity related blog posts and is currently in the process of creating a database of diversity related funding opportunities. Both Membership and Diversity Committees will also work on recruiting graduate and undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to join the SfHP. The Communications Committee continues to publish informative student newsletters and podcasts and plans on hosting a student focused twitter chat in the near future. Finally, SAC plans on continuing to sponsor the Emerging Leader Student Travel Award of which provides students funding to attend the upcoming APA Convention in Washington, D.C. Keep an eye out on the list serv for a call for applications in 2020.

In addition to involvement within SAC committees, we also have student representation on larger committees (e.g., Education and Training Council, Health Research Council, International Relations Committee) within the SfHP through the SAC Liaisons program. SAC will continue to advocate for the creation of student resources, programming, and awards this upcoming year both within our council and the SfHP.

Additionally, at APA Convention 2019, SAC advocated for the creation of a Post-doctoral Representative position within the SAC. We are very excited to have a position specifically devoted to post-docs, which will serve as a liaison between the Early Career Professionals Council and SAC. We also recently completed the post-doc needs assessment which resulted in valuable information on post-doc needs (please see Dr. KayLoni Olson’s article for more information).

Do you have ideas for SAC? We would love to hear from you! Please email us. Please also check out the amazing resources we have on the SfHP website.

Best of luck to those currently applying for internships, post-docs, and first post-graduate jobs!

Jessica Naftaly, M.S.
-SfHP Student Advisory Council


Chair: Jessica Naftaly, M.S.

Chair elect: Madeline Johnson, M.S.

Past Chair: Aviva Ariel-Donges, Ph.D.

Diversity Committee: Darryl Sweeper Jr, M.A., and Dominic Ysidron, M.S.

Membership Committee: Nicole Butler, M.S., and Jennifer Gittleman, M.S.

Communications Committee: Ke Ding, M.S., and Olivia Zech, M.A.

Post-doc Representative: KayLoni Olson, Ph.D.



  1. APA (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. APA (n.d.). Retrieved from