Chapter Spotlight

St. John's University Student Affiliates of School Psychology chapter spotlight

Service to the community, professional development and social support for students are focal points for the program.

By David O. L. Cheng and Magdalena Buczek

St. John’s University’s chapter of SASP is constantly improving its ability to meet the needs of its students. Our chapter engages in a variety of events and activities that align with the purpose of SASP as well as the mission of St. John’s University.

As a Vincentian university, St. John’s strongly influences its students to serve the surrounding communities. With the values of serving the needy, global development, and social justice, the Vincentian heritage of St. John’s is very present in the activities of SASP. Various volunteering opportunities offer SASP members the chance to become involved with and serve our community. In the early weeks of each fall semester, University Service Day, a university-wide day of volunteering across NYC and Long Island, has become a SASP tradition for our chapter. This is often the first activity that SASP promotes, engaging new students from the start of their St. John’s careers. On another recent trip, we spent the day improving the conditions of local organizations, including a preschool for children with developmental disabilities. This April, St. John’s SASP is excited to participate in Relay for Life for the first time.

St. John’s SASP enhances the professional development of its students. Along with monthly meetings, St. John’s SASP has recently begun holding student-led workshops on practical issues encountered in the program. Students determine workshop topics during our monthly meetings. These workshops offer students opportunities to receive advice and guidance from some of the more experienced students within the program, such as CV writing tips or interview practice.

While workshops offer the ability for our experienced students to give back to the newer students of the program, our meetings and workshops also benefit our older students as well. SASP offers a chance for students to highlight new research findings or discuss important shifts in our field. Discussion topics have included the release of the DSM-5, updates to theories of cognitive intelligence, and information on the release of newer editions of books or assessment tools. In this way, we work to ensure that all students can benefit from each of our SASP meetings and workshops.

Lastly, St. John’s SASP also likes to have fun! A main goal of St. John’s chapter of SASP is to increase social support amongst students. Fostering social support begins before our new members sit down for their first class meeting. SASP holds a meet-and-greet day, during which students have the opportunity to gain insight into the program and prepare for the challenges ahead. At this meet-and-greet, incoming students get to meet their “big buddies”—second-year students tasked with welcoming and orienting new students to the program.

We also do our best to schedule professionally relevant social outings and events for students, alumni, and faculty to attend. One event we are especially proud to support is Autism Awareness Day at Citi Field, which we have attended for the past five years. The proceeds of Autism Awareness Day at Citi Field benefit a variety of tri-state area educational, treatment, and outreach programs serving children and families affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

While we are currently very pleased with the events and activities of our SASP chapter, we do see much room for growth. For example, in the future, we plan to highlight student research projects at future SASP meetings in order to increase student collaboration and research involvement. Being located in Queens, N.Y., so close to many other school psychology programs, another goal in the coming years is to increase collaboration with these nearby programs and SASP chapters.

The St. John’s chapter of SASP has made great strides over the years and will continue to improve with time. As the needs of our student body will no doubt change, our chapter of SASP will remain flexible to accommodate our students and continue to promote best practices of the field.

About the authors

David Cheng is a PsyD student in thesSchool psychology program at St. John’s University. David received his BA in psychology from SUNY Geneseo, where he worked in the Sibling-Peer Research Group with Dr. Ganie DeHart studying the social and cognitive development of children. He has researched the publication practices of major school psychology journals, as well as the programs being used in schools to combat bullying and cyberbullying. His current research interests focus on bullying, cyberbullying, social-emotional learning, and the impact of state and federal laws on the field of school psychology.

Magdalena Buczek is a PsyD student in the school psychology program at St. John's University. Magdalena received her BA in psychology, with a concentration in child and adolescent mental health studies, from New York University in 2009. She has worked as a research assistant at a special-needs preschool, exploring the impact of weighted vests on attention in preschoolers with PDD. Magdalena is currently working on an international research project examining teachers' knowledge of ADHD in nine different countries. Her research interests include the treatment of disruptive disorders as well as the impact of parenting.