College of Public Health and Human Sciences‘ Human Development and Family Studies PhD student Jeff Proulx traveled to Washington, DC, in May for a meeting of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Graduate Students’ Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (APAGS-CEMA).
The committee was developed in order to encourage a pipeline of graduate students that is representative of the nation’s cultural diversity.
Toward that end, the committee’s efforts revolve around making resources available to underrepresented graduate students and include materials such as a webinar series focused on the needs and questions posed by graduate students, a database of training videos for cultural competency and providing grants for students who study issues related to cultural diversity.
Part of the committee’s efforts to promote funding for underrepresented students include advocating for the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and facilitates training for ethnic minority students to address the needs of minorities in underserved areas.
Jeff was chosen to head to Capitol Hill to lobby Representative Greg Walden and Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to support President Obama’s budget proposal that called for an increase in funding for the MFP this year.
“The reason APA chose this time for me to go the Hill was due to the fact that the FY2015 budget is currently in appropriations committees and the timing provided us with an opportunity to encourage support for full funding of the MFP budget,” Jeff says.
Jeff met with Sen. Merkley and Sen. Wyden’s appropriations staffers and discussed details of the budget proposal including questions about the budget as well as the type of individuals and programs the MFP supports.
“I felt uniquely qualified to schedule meetings in Senate offices because I am a scholar from an underrepresented background – Native American – and have been supported by similar fellowships and grants including the National Research Council of the National Academies Ford Fellowship and the National Institute on Aging Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health Related Research,” he says.
Jeff has also been a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Scholar and currently serves on the College of Public Health and Human Sciences Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Enhancement Committee, in which he is an author on the college’s Diversity Enhancement plan.
“I found the entire experience to be empowering and left me with a better understanding of how to affect science and social policy through direct engagement,” he says.
Jeff is currently funded through the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Trainee program.