2022 Student Section: Melissa Lazo

Statement of Intent
I would like to be considered for the position of Chair-Elect in CPA. My experience and passion for working in research and applied settings have led me to continue pursuing advancements in social justice and advocacy for psychology across multiple mediums. The position as Chair-Elect offers an excellent opportunity to assist in research and advocate for mental health, not only across students and psychologists, but also across other professionals and settings. This is well-aligned with my values and goal of making a positive impact on a broader range of individuals by resolving the existing gaps in current knowledge and practice, as well as empowering students and professionals to take action. My identity as a Peruvian immigrant has provided me with the opportunity to observe and experience different levels of inequality and discrimination across multiple settings. These experiences have instilled a passion and interest for greater equity and accessibility through culturally-responsive practice and research. My involvement in volunteer, clinical, and research positions has provided me with an array of opportunities to develop and refine my organizational, critical thinking, and mentoring skills. My experience as a graduate program representative and school psychology advocate and ambassador through the National Association of School Psychology has provided me with valuable skills in leadership and communication that will help me in the coordination and management of the mentorship program through the Chair-Elect position. The responsibilities and experiences provided as Chair-Elect make the position a perfect fit with my professional and personal ambitions. It is my greatest aspiration to utilize the knowledge, skills, and experiences I have acquired and meet the expectations of CPA through this position.
I am currently a second-year MA student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. My research interests include investigating the factors associated with the social-emotional and academic well-being of students with autism spectrum disorder. My Master’s thesis explores the student-teacher relationship among female students with autism spectrum disorder and the factors associated with the relationship quality. In the past, I have worked as a research assistant for multiple psychology laboratories related to health, child, aging, cognitive and language development. Outside of research, I am a graduate student ambassador and program student representative for my university and the National Association of School Psychologists. Through these positions, I advocate for school psychology through diverse activities, as well as represent and voice current students’ concerns and opinions to faculty and staff within the program. In addition, I am currently a one-on-one instructor for students with specific learning disabilities at the Learning Disabilities Society of Greater Vancouver. Previously, I have worked as an English educator and university welcoming staff for culturally diverse students, and as a behavioural therapist and social coach for students with autism spectrum disorder in schools and private settings. My current goals include advancing research through collaboration with other experts in the field, expanding my clinical skills and services to a broader range of individuals, and becoming a registered psychologist. I aim to continue advocating for mental health and access to services, alongside encouraging the consideration of both culture and diversity in research and practice. My personal interests involve supporting youth and elders, traveling, dancing, and spending time with my friends and family.