2022 Student Section: Alexandra van der Valk

Statement of Intent
My name is Alex van der Valk (she/her) and I am a first year Master of Arts student in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Waterloo. I am writing to apply for the position of Communications Executive for the 2022-2024 term. During my undergraduate degree, I was a student affiliate with the CPA and had the opportunity to present a poster at its 2018 annual convention. It was my first foray into leading and presenting my own research project, and I was impressed by how the CPA made the annual convention accessible to inexperienced students to develop their skills in a supportive environment. When I applied to graduate school a few years later, I used the CPA’s graduate guide and online career resources to narrow down my choices and develop my application. Now in grad school, I serve as a volunteer reviewer on the editorial board for Mind Pad, where I provide constructive feedback to students navigating the article submission process for the first time. Given these positive experiences with the CPA, I would be proud to enthusiastically share its resources with students across Canada. I bring to the table diverse work experience in academic and clinical settings, including media and website management, communications, copyediting, and proofreading. To play a role in an organization that helps students prepare for diverse careers in psychology would be rewarding as I navigate my own trajectory to an academic career. I was first drawn to psychology after taking classes with professors who made psychology fun, interesting, and relevant, and as I worked through my degree those same professors became my most important mentors. They helped me find my love for psychology, so I hope that in some small way I can help other students find their passion for it, too.
<strong>Academic Activities</strong> I completed my BSc in Psychology (Hons.) at Saint Mary’s University in 2017. During my degree I mentored younger psychology students and represented the psychology department at open houses, student events, and online. As a communications assistant for the psychology department, I managed their social media accounts, disseminated relevant news, and responded to incoming queries from students and faculty. I later served as President of our undergraduate psychology society, leading academic and social events and connecting students with appropriate campus or online resources. After graduation, I took on positions as a clinical research assistant in Geriatric Medicine, a copyeditor, and a manuscript editor for a children’s hospital. All roles required keen attention to detail, engaging in interdisciplinary topics within and external to psychology, and honing formal professional language skills. I also manage a university-affiliated website using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), updating blog posts and announcements, adding member profiles, and developing new content. <strong>Academic Goals and Personal Interests</strong> I’m currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Waterloo. My SSHRC-funded research explores the impact of cognitive biases on political attitudes. Broadly, my interests encompass reasoning and decision making; I’m fascinated about why people engage in selfish or misinformed behaviours, and how we can guide them to be more prosocial and accurate. After I complete my MA, I plan to pursue a PhD (and a postdoc after that, if I’m lucky!) with the goal of working in a position that allows me the freedom to split my time between research, teaching, and mentorship. During the year I split my time between Waterloo and Halifax. I hope to visit the West Coast one day – I love exploring new cities! Outside of school and travels, I can usually be found scoping out new restaurants or trying to perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe.