Policy Matters Blog

The Future of the Profession: Graduate Student Advocates

As I reflect on the past 2 years in my role as the student member on the NASP Government and Professional Relations Committee (GPR), the word that immediately comes to mind is gratitude. While it's sometimes difficult to find gratitude during such challenging times that we face both within the profession and world, there is no better time than now to dig deep and highlight the things that we are grateful for. I’ll begin.  

I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such well-respected and smart advocates who work in the schools ensuring the success of students academically, socially, and emotionally; who are professors training the next generation of school psychologists; or who just have a passion for advocacy and dedicate their free time to staying abreast on all things policy related. I am grateful for the knowledge that I acquired about what it takes to advocate at the federal and state levels as well as supporting my state association.   

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you must remain persistent with your advocacy efforts. Change does not happen overnight. Case in point, NASP leadership has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the importance and value of school psychologists, and their efforts are paying off with the current administration. Secondly, you must keep your ear to the ground. Advocacy without data and personal testimony is not compelling. Thirdly, not all change happens at the federal level; state and community level advocacy are equally important. Lastly, I reflect on the widely adopted African American proverb, “each one teach one,” which highlights the responsibility of members of the community to teach others information that they have learned, and how it relates to my advocacy journey. Advocacy is a skill, and what good is a skill to a community if everyone keeps it to themselves? Spreading knowledge, sharing tips and strategies, and listening beget a ripple effect. Teaching people how to advocate for change at the community, state, and federal levels impels others to advocate for change—and that’s how change happens!   

I am also grateful for the opportunity to have been a member of a NASP resolution writing group and to publish a peer-reviewed journal article with members of the committee, neither of which would have been possible had I not been a member of GPR.   

What I am most grateful for is the belief that the GPR committee had in me to help bring to life a graduate student advocacy training and the support I received in executing the idea. I am grateful for the inclusion of my voice at the table when discussing pressing issues facing our profession. I am even more grateful for the recognition and respect that I received when I shared my perspective and the appreciation shown to my thoughts as a future school psychologist eager to continue to make changes for the betterment of our schools and children.  

Engaging in advocacy related work as a graduate student feels like a daunting task, but if we don’t take the leap and explore interests and opportunities to learn new skills, we remain stagnant. It is impossible to make progress if we stay in our boxes only pursuing opportunities that we know everything about. As my term comes to an end, I know that the GPR committee will continue to prioritize their efforts towards increasing the graduate student voice in advocacy. It is imperative that graduate students seek out and take advantage of opportunities to serve on NASP committees, have a seat at the table, and make sure that their voices and perspectives are being heard.  

As the future of the profession, our voices are needed now more than ever. I leave you with a call to action: Fill out the application to be the next student member on the GPR committee or any other NASP committee that has a student role in advocacy. Let your voice be heard!