Student Advisory Council: Promoting Inclusive Excellence

TheHealthPsychologist Member Contributions

Aviva Ariel-Donges, MS, MPH

Aviva Ariel-Donges, MS, MPH

Aviva Ariel-Donges, MS, MPH

This year’s SfHP Student Advisory Council is engaging in a coordinated effort to better address the needs of students from historically underrepresented (and historically under-supported) backgrounds. Like the broader leadership of the Society and APA, we recognize that health psychologists should comprise a heterogenous group in order to best serve our patients and secure the future of our profession. By more systematically highlighting diversity, social justice, and social determinants of health, we hope to foster connections with the broadest range of health psychology trainees.

Advocating for the entire student pipeline means understanding and supporting trainees who have often been left out; people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, adult learners, individuals with disabilities, non-native English speakers, first-generation college graduates, immigrants, individuals from rural areas, student parents, international students, and others. By recognizing, listening to, and responding to students’ needs, we can develop strong future leaders for the Society and the profession. ​

It is also vital that we – from first year graduate students to late-career professionals – educate ourselves about professional practices and institutional policies that affect access to quality health psychology training and mentorship. Implicit bias, systemic discrimination, and financial barriers most negatively affect trainees from underrepresented backgrounds. Establishing continuous learning and honest self-assessment as cornerstones of our profession is essential to its longevity and relevance.

To achieve our goal of striving toward inclusive excellence, the SfHP Student Advisory Council plans to execute several new initiatives during the 2018-2019 year:

  1. Disseminating a comprehensive needs assessment survey to better understand the ways in which SfHP’s Student Advisory Council can provide value to student members.
  2. Increasing the number of online resources that can be accessed by trainees in order to even the playing field for students with less support at their home institutions.
  3. Developing opportunities for students to receive supplemental mentorship as needs arise in collaboration with the Early Career Professionals Council.
  4. Updating the format of our quarterly online newsletters to include dedicated space for diversity-centered content.
  5. Producing a student-run podcast to supplement our newsletters to allow for in-depth explorations of important issues and to include more student voices.
  6. Creating a student-run blog on SfHP’s website with posts solely focused on diversity-related topics.
  7. Continuing to promote volunteering with the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program, a non-profit organization that connects younger students with STEM professionals in their field of interest.
  8. Developing more diversity-focused programming at the annual APA convention.
  9. Coordinating with the Society’s executive board to brainstorm ways to expand financial support for students engaged in work related to social justice and health disparities.

This effort cannot be a one-time push or an isolated campaign; collaborative, consistent, and responsive outreach from all levels of the Society is necessary to broaden the diversity within our own ranks. We want lines of communication with the SfHP Student Advisory Council to be wide open and our inner-workings to be transparent. Please feel free to contact the Student Advisory Council with comments, questions, suggestions, and requests via the e-mails listed below or by joining our student list serve (

Chair: Aviva Ariel-Donges (

Chair Elect: Jessica Naftaly (

Past Chair: KayLoni Olson (

Diversity Committee: Tamara Strong-Chavez ( and Darryl Sweeper, Jr. (

Membership Committee: Jessica Naftaly and Nicole Butler (

Communications Committee: Claire Conley ( and Ke Ding (