Div. 36 student opportunities and programs
By Thomas J. Coleman, III and Steffany J. Homolka
As graduate and undergraduate students, navigating your way through academia can be fraught with confusion and uncertainty. But there's no need to fret; Div. 36 students have many opportunities and programs that can help make the tough choices a little bit easier. Aside from choosing your area of study (among many other choices), undergraduates are typically faced with deciding whether or not to pursue an advanced degree after their bachelor's degree. And if this is your intent, further questions may come to mind: What programs should I apply to? What do I want to specialize in? For graduate students, such questions can take on a whole other level of confusion and uncertainty. Already established in an advanced degree program, these students are now faced with putting their degree to work after graduation: Should you aim for a job in the private sector or perhaps try your hand for the much-coveted and increasingly scarce tenure track position at a university? Let's not even mention the numerous smaller questions glossed over here. If you are anxious about academic and career issues or maybe just interested in seeking the company of other like-minded students interested in the psychology of religion and spirituality, Div. 36 can help.
Div. 36 student involvement is coordinated, in part, by the current division student co-representatives (Steffany Homolka and Thomas J. Coleman III). Together with a team of dedicated student volunteers whose contributions are the driving force behind much of this coordination, Div. 36 students have many opportunities to connect with other students and scholars sharing similar interests, as well receiving guidance and advice in answering some of the big questions facing students as they navigate academia today. So, want to save money at conferences, increase your academic capital, take up a leadership opportunity, add another line to your curriculum vitae or maybe just ask an important question to a knowledgeable person? Here's how being a student member of Div. 36 can benefit you:
Consider becoming a Div. 36 student volunteer yourself.
Our volunteers have regular contact with many other students and top scholars in the field. As volunteers reach out to these professors, researchers and students in the course of coordinating events, programming and many other opportunities, they increase their visibility within the field of psychology of religion and spirituality, which in turn creates and builds lifelong connections with colleagues. Volunteers also have the opportunity to propose and shape Div. 36 student initiatives, so you can be creative. Plus, time commitments are minimal, and being an active volunteer also looks great on your CV.
Div. 36 student Listserv can save you money.
Attending a conference? The Listserv can be used to coordinate informal student gatherings at conferences (particularly midyear conference and APA convention) as well as finding a friend or two interested in splitting the cab fare from the airport and maybe even a hotel room for the event. The Listserv also is another great way to ask questions to other students and early career scholars in the field.
Mentoring and networking at conferences.
At the annual Div. 36 midyear conference and APA convention, this is where the networking, question asking and answer getting really happens. You will see people wearing “I © DIV. 36 STUDENTS!” buttons walking around at these conferences. These individuals are friendly and coincidently, a few happen to be some of the biggest names in the field. They are wearing the buttons because they enjoy mentoring students. Introduce yourself to them and while you are at it, ask a question or two. (Free advice)
More mentoring opportunities.
This year, Div. 36 volunteers have scheduled a panel on professional and academic student issues at midyear. This panel specifically is geared toward students and led by a diverse range of experienced scholars at various stages in their career. Individuals on the panel briefly will recount and share relevant vignettes from their tenure in academia, followed by an extra-long Q&A session so you can ask the questions that are important to you.
Student poster awards.
Upon submission of a poster presentation for the midyear or APA convention, students have the opportunity to indicate whether they would like to be considered for an award. All accepted submissions are then blind reviewed, with several of the top posters receiving a ribbon during the conference. Choosing to be considered for a student poster award presents a great opportunity to make your research really stand out the conference. The winners are published in the Div. 36 newsletter; and again, it looks great on your CV.
Resources and leadership opportunities for students on their home campus.
Want to coordinate an event on campus to introduce your friends and other students to the field of psychology of religion and spirituality? Div. 36 students have a ready-made PowerPoint Toolkit, (PPT, 5MB) which you can present as it is or modify to add your own touch, and maybe even include your own research. In addition, Div. 36 student volunteers are currently working on a program for further networking and support, called Div. 36 Campus Representatives. Once in place the campus representatives program aims to provide a point of connection between individual schools and Div. 36. This point of connection can be you . As the campus representative for your school, you will have access to a variety of cool resources for getting other students connected and engaged in the psychology of religion and spirituality. We are hoping to offer campus representatives a virtual or even in-person visit and presentation from top scholars in the field about the topics you and your group are interested in. Campus representatives will also be listed as key contact people for their university on the Div. 36 website.
How to make your college journey easier?
Navigating your way through an undergraduate or graduate degree is tough (and many times it is really tough). Why not make it easier? Your Div. 36 student volunteers and student co-representatives provide many opportunities for doing precisely this. Seize them (the opportunities, not your co-representatives or volunteers). Increasing your psychology of religion and spirituality social support network and raising your visibility to future employers and colleagues are key to steering your way through academia. By taking advantage of the many programs and opportunities Div. 36 students offer, you should be off to a good start.
About the Authors
Thomas J. Coleman III is a graduate student in the research psychology master's program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and director of the Ralph W. Hood Jr. Psychology of Religion Laboratory. He is an assistant editor for the journal Secularism & Nonreligion and a managing editor for The Religious Studies Project. His interests span research in psychological anthropology, the cognitive sciences and philosophy of science, focusing on theory of mind and folk psychology. Coleman recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Science, Religion & Culture titled “Atheism, Secularity, and Science” with John R. Shook and Ralph W. Hood.
Steffany J. Homolka, MA (Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois), MA (Case Western Reserve University), is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Case Western Reserve University's clinical psychology PhD program, child and family track, where she works with Julie J. Exline, PhD, investigating religious and spiritual struggles among youth. She will be completing her internship at SUNY Upstate Medical University and graduating in August 2017. Homolka has greatly enjoyed her service as the Div. 36 APAGS student co-representative (August 2012-July 2016) and hopes to continue her passion to educate, serve and advocate for others and the psychology of religion/spirituality field through academia, research, clinical work and consultation.