Candidates Statements of Interest and Biographies
- Erika Infantino
- Emma Laflamme
- Melissa Lazo
Statement of Intent
I am applying for the three-year term Chair-Elect Student Section’s Executive position. From a very young age and throughout my academic career, I have always been passionate about being involved in student affairs and value student representation. As a student, it is my responsibility to ensure that my peers and I are getting the education and experiences we want. I have learnt that it is critical for students to have a voice if they want to see change. Being a part of student life has led me to create wonderful opportunities, build connections, and has made my educational experience worth wild. Throughout school, I have led charity groups that have helped me build my leadership and communication skills; I have been a part of non-profit organizations that have allowed me to help young students and families; and I have been a part of advertising committees that have allowed me to develop my marking and social media skills. These experiences have provided me with wonderful learning opportunities that have allowed me to develop into the student leader I am today, and I wish to take the skills I have developed and share them with the rest of my fellow Canadian Psychology students. I am proud to consider myself an organized, positive, calm, dedicated, creative, team-worker and with these qualities. I hope to represent the voices of many other students, hear their needs, and help make their education experience more enriching by increasing student involvement, engaging student interest, and fostering a student community where all students can come share their experiences and get support.
Erika Infantino is a first year Master’s student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at McGill University in Montreal, QC. Her research interests include the role of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) on student success and teachers’ current perspective and barriers to fully utilizing the IEP in the classroom. With the results obtained from her Master’s thesis, she aims to create a teacher intervention that will facilitate the usage of IEPs in classrooms by providing educators with tools to use throughout the year that will facilitate finding evidence-based resources, facilitate group discussion, and help foster strategies that will allow the IEP to become more specific, resourceful, and solution-based. Her undergraduate thesis investigated the role of classroom cohesion on individual levels of prosociality in young students. She is also currently studying graduate students’ and clinicians’ perspectives and use of evidence-base practices and open science platforms. Overall, she is interested in understanding barriers professionals face in better implementing research into their practice; ultimately, narrowing the research-to-practice gap. She is also a program student representative, volunteer at the West Montreal Readaptation Centre, and Client Care coordinator at a private therapy and wellness centre. Previously, she has worked as a research assistant in multiple labs examining the role of peers and parents on youth. All throughout her studies, she has worked and volunteered in a variety of settings that have allowed her to become passionate about working towards growing youth well-being and mental health. On her free time, Erika enjoys walks with her dog and hiking.
Statement of Intent
I am applying as Chair-Elect for a three-year term on the CPA Student Section Executive. I would like to hold this position as I am very passionate about coordinating scientific events. Furthermore, my involvement as a Chair-Elect would allow me to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in ways other than my direct participation in scientific communications. It would also be a great opportunity to connect with different psychology students across Canada. Since September 2020, I am the coordinator of the research activities of the Parenfant laboratory directed by Dr. Célia Matte-Gagné at Laval University. This work involves coordinating and planning the collection of longitudinal data. In addition, I supervise and train about 20 research assistants. My work as a coordinator requires me to develop skills in planning, developing, and implementing projects. In addition, I manage an effective team by setting priorities and meeting deadlines. My work highlights my leadership, planning and coordination skills, which are important qualities for a future Chair-Elect. I was also the coordinator of the Psycolloque 2021, a two-day event bringing together all the students from the psychology programs of the universities of Quebec and New Brunswick for a scientific congress. Organizing the event involved coordinating the conferences, managing the budget, dealing with various companies, negotiating prices, ensuring travel logistics, communicating with universities, ensuring security, etc. Thus, I had to find professionals in psychology interested in coming to speak about their field, manage the remuneration, establish the schedule of the conferences, and ensure the smooth running of the event. The coordination of the conferences gave me useful knowledge in the organization of scientific conferences.
Emma Laflamme is a first-year doctoral student in psychology, research and intervention (Ph.D.) at Laval University and aspire to an academic career. She is currently the coordinator of the research activities of the Parenfant laboratory directed by Dr. Célia Matte-Gagné. From 2018-2021, she completed a bachelor's degree in psychology through an honors pathway titled "Research and Intervention," a highly contingent one-year concentration that provides hands-on experiences related to conducting a research project. Wishing to become a researcher-clinician specializing in children, it is essential for her to continue her research on the factors that promote child development. Her ongoing Ph.D’s thesis seeks to examine the prospective associations between paternal autonomy support and several indicators of child social-emotional and cognitive development at preschool age. Her interest in the role of fathers and child development stems from her curiosity about areas that are not well documented. Indeed, although fathers are more present, developmental research rarely considers them. Her interest in working in this field stems, among other things, from her experience in a residential setting with abused mothers and children when she was a follow-up intervenor at the Maison du cœur pour femmes. As part of her research work, Emma has developed an expertise in the observation of various parenting behaviors involving mind-mindedness, autonomy support and child’s attachment. Her motivation in research is evidenced by her numerous scientific achievements and thus her involvement in the dissemination of knowledge at the provincial and international level. Emma is also a teaching assistant for the Psychology of the Family course offered at the undergraduate level at Laval University. In addition, she was a research assistant for the Centre de recherche universitaire sur les jeunes et les familles (CRUJeF) where she is currently a student researcher. Outside of academics, Emma is passionate about fitness, painting and traveling.
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.
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT AFFAIRS EXECUTIVE POSITION
- Nicole Lento
Statement of Intent
Please accept my application for the role of Undergraduate Student Affairs Executive for the Canadian Psychological Association’s Student Section. I would like to apply to this position because I am interested in becoming more active in the psychological community. I see all that the psychological community has to offer and wish to promote such positive experiences to others. Furthermore, based on my academic experience, I recognize the importance of a mentor and advisor. I would be honoured to provide undergraduate students with support and motivation. I also think this position would provide me with great experience, as well as allow me to practice my communication and leadership skills. With that being said, I possess many qualities that make me an excellent match for the role. I am dedicated, responsible, professional, and reasonable. Throughout my experience of coaching competitive gymnastics, I have gained valuable co-operation skills and interpersonal skills with individuals of all ages. Coaching has also pushed me to enhance my problem-solving skills. Moreover, through my role of office manager, I have attained excellent organization skills that will make me efficient at performing my duties. Lastly, I am a first-year master’s student who has recently been an undergraduate student. This allows me to closely connect with undergraduate needs. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.
I have received my Specialized Honours B.A. in psychology and am currently in my first year of master’s in clinical psychology. In terms of academic activities, I have previously held a research assistant position, and hope to do more research assistant jobs in the near future. I have joined the Faculty of Arts council and became an NCR pediatric psychology representative. I also hold a graduate teaching assistantship. Moreover, I intend to publish my papers and attend conferences. A major passion of mine is coaching gymnastics. Once I moved for graduate school, I quit coaching. I intend on re-pursuing coaching again, but until then, it will continue to drive my career. Through my long-time experience coaching children, I acquired an interest in child psychology, specifically parenting/teaching styles. Since I spent 14 hours a week with my athletes, I played a major role in shaping their development as not only gymnasts, but as human beings too. In my position, I have helped resolve children’s issues relating to fear, confidence, depression, and family problems. I found myself constantly wondering why a child behaves the way they do and formed the impression that parenting styles play a significant role. As a young adult with no children of my own, I obviously cannot judge the tough decisions, desire to protect, and unconditional love it takes to raise a child- but I can research it! My goal is to become a Child Clinical Psychologist. My love for children motivates me to treat children with mental health issues. Moreover, I aim to educate parents and teachers on methods of caring for children that promote future success.
ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE EXECUTIVE POSITION
- Sarah Nakonechny
- Somayya Saleemi
Statement of Intent
The position that I am applying for is Administration and Finance Executive. This is a position that I am quite familiar holding as I have held it for a number of years in various capacities. Throughout my academic career thus far I have acted as Executive Administrator at the University of Regina for our Psychology Student’s Association (2 years), Luther College Student’s Association (2 years), and Undergraduate Research Journal (1 year). During my time in this role, I have been responsible for managing and scheduling teams of 6 to 40 individuals, recording meeting minutes, scheduling meeting and event times and location space, and assisting with the preparation of assets and event execution as needed. In all these roles I have been the one to enforce deadlines and ensure that all teams involved are on track to execute the desired plans within the predetermined timeline. As well, I have some experience with the creation of spreadsheets and budget reports, along with the collection and documentation of resources. I am interested in holding this position for the Canadian Psychological Associations’ Student Section as this position presents a valuable opportunity for me to expand the skills that I have currently built and utilize them on a larger platform. Being able to use my skills to give back to the organization as it has provided so much for me is a chance that I would greatly appreciate. Through my strong organizational skills, open communication practices, and detail-orientated working style I am a strong candidate to hold this position.
My name is Sarah Nakonechny (she/they), and I am a senior student at the University of Regina, working towards the completion of Honours Psychology, under the supervision of Dr. Susan Yamamoto, and Honours Philosophy, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Simard Smith. I take pride in being an active member of my university’s community. A couple highlights from that work is that I will be serving as President on my Psychology Student’s Association, and I am one of the key developers of the University of Regina’s Undergraduate Research Journal. I have also volunteered as a student assistant within multiple research labs and continue to partake in volunteer work within two of those labs at the University of Regina currently. Once I have completed by undergraduate degrees, I am hopeful in my pursuits for a graduate program where I can focus on looking at offenders’ mental health and treatment programming within Canada. Outside of academia I enjoy yoga, spending time with my cat, reading, crocheting, and travelling.
Statement of Intent
Hello/Bonjour! My name is Somayya Saleemi (she/her) and I am applying for the Administration and Finance Executive position. I wish to become involved in the Student Section of the CPA again, as I was during my Undergrad, and believe this role would be a good fit. I have a clear vision of what my contribution would look like within the Student Section. My past skills and experiences would serve me well in this role. I have served as an executive on the Student Section in the past, as Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer (USAO), which required many of the same skills. If elected, this experience, along with having taken on executive roles in various other student-led organizations, affords me the ability to hit the ground running. I communicate clearly, am detail-oriented and organized, which are fundamental in this role to keep meetings on track and recorded accurately, and in maintaining the budget responsibly. I am systematic, efficient, and methodical, which will allow me to complete tasks like the preparation of meeting minutes, maintaining documents, and ensuring members and executives are on track to meet necessary deadlines. Having served as both Campus representative at York University as well as the USAO on the executive, I understand the needs of both the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Affairs Officers, and will be able to assist with the Student Representative Program. I hope to make it easier for executives and members to stay informed and connected within the Student Section, and the CPA at large. I maintain a professional work environment and my ability to collaborate easily with others facilitates my approachability and willingness to learn and connect with peers at all levels of the CPA. Lastly, as a visible minority, I hope to bring a unique perspective and diversity to the team.
Somayya Saleemi (she/her) completed her Hons. BSc. in Psychology from York University in Toronto, followed by an Ontario Post Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research from Humber College. Her professional experiences include working as a Research Coordinator at Baycrest Hospital on projects examining the effects of Bilingualism on aging and cognition. She has also worked as a Research Ethics Analyst with The Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Ethics Department aiding in the oversight, management, and approval of a variety of research ethics applications. As a Program Assistant for Erinoakkids Centre for Treatment and Development, she has experience with children that have a diagnosis of behavioral and developmental disabilities, within the Respite program. Originally from Toronto, and a huge Leafs fan, she is excited to continue her academic journey in Ottawa. Currently, she is a Doctoral student at the University of Ottawa in the Clinical Psychology program, and plans to pursue her research interests in cognitive neuroscience and aging during her graduate studies. Other areas of interest include child psychology, clinical neuropsychology, as well as research ethics. She is serving as a first year clinical representative on UOttawa’s Graduate Association of Students in Psychology, and is a facilitator with a campus organization called One in Five geared towards raising mental health awareness and providing education/resources on campus, and its surrounding community. She has extensive past experience within the Student Section as the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer, the Campus representative at York University, and having served on the Editorial Board for the student run MINDPad. She has attended, participated in, and presented at several conferences, including the CPA conferences in Ottawa, Vancouver, and Toronto. She is passionate about issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She loves to go on hikes and has three cats named Potter, Weasley, and Hermione.
COMMUNICATIONS EXECUTIVE POSITION
- Juliana Khoury
- Rachel Lee
- Alexandra van der Valk
Statement of Intent
I am very interested in becoming the Communications Executive for the CPA Student Section. I feel that my involvement with the CPA, through presenting at annual conventions, the mentorship program, and my role as associate editor for Mind Pad, have been instrumental in fostering relationships with peers across the country, and I would like to continue to strengthen my involvement. I also keenly believe that the CPA Student Section does important outreach, advocacy, and networking work, and I would like to further contribute to that work through the position of Communications Executive. I firmly believe that many of my experiences would make me an asset in this position. I am comfortable reading, writing, and speaking both English and French, which I think is a serious asset for a communications executive in a bilingual organization. I am a strong writer, having honed my skills during my Bachelor of Humanities degree. I have worked as a lab coordinator, which involved communicating with lab members, researchers from other labs, participants, and the public; and administrative work, including editing. I have served on several boards and executives, both professional and volunteer, so I have relevant experience in that area. In my political volunteer work, I have worked on several election days, and thus have experience that would be an asset for working to maintain the online voting system. Finally, several of my personal qualities would serve me well in this position. I am highly organized, both with my time as well as with my materials. I work well under pressure and am diligent and dedicated. I also have strong interpersonal skills and am a good communicator. I am keenly interested in this opportunity. I would be honoured to have this position and believe that I would do good work. Thank you for your consideration.
Prior to beginning her studies in Psychology, Juliana completed a Bachelor of Humanities (Honours) at Carleton University, including a year abroad at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven’s Institute of Philosophy. In her third year, she realized her desire to become a clinical psychologist, so after graduating, she completed an accelerated Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Psychology with a Special Concentration in Forensic Psychology at St. Francis Xavier University. Her thesis investigated risk perception of sexual victimization among female undergraduates. She is now in the first year of her Master’s in Clinical Psychology at the University of Regina. Her thesis will examine gender differences in mental disorder symptoms among RCMP, and the role of sexual assault and harassment in those differences. She is excited to have the opportunity to work on a project that focuses on her two primary interests: mental health among public safety personnel, and sexual violence. In addition to her thesis work, Juliana is working on a diverse array of research projects, including on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, wrongful convictions in Canada, anxiety sensitivity and posttraumatic stress disorder, and intolerance of uncertainty and smartphone use. Juliana hopes to one day work in academia, with her research focusing on the prevention of both mental health disorder symptoms among public safety personnel, and sexual violence. In her personal time, Juliana enjoys cooking, playing piano, board games, and going for long walks. She also enjoys being involved in politics and local theatre.
Statement of Intent
I am applying for the position of Communications Executive. In my experience as a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to speak to students through my Teaching Assistantships and have found that many of them have questions about education and careers in psychology. When I was an undergraduate student, I also had many questions and did not know where to turn. I would like to hold the position of Communications Executive to be able to help questioning and interested students and give them information regarding the usefulness of being part of the CPA. This position stands out to me as being consistent with my skills and interests. In addition, I feel as though being part of the CPA Student Executive would help foster my existing skills and allow me to engage in networking with students and professionals across the country. I feel I am qualified for this position as I have strong writing and editing skills, which is key to proofreading Section documents and communications. I also have a creative, artistic eye to maintain the website and Section News in an appealing and engaging manner. My teaching experience through TAships, private music lessons and tutoring, and working at a summer camp has given me interpersonal skills that would help me excel in being the main contact point for students in, or interested in, psychology. In addition, my leadership experience as a Program Director for a summer camp and as the president of a student group at Memorial University has given me the skills required for effective coordination and communication of all aspects of this position. I welcome the added responsibility and integrity that this position requires.
I am in my first year of a Master of Science in Experimental Psychology from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) with a Health and Wellness focus. I previously completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology, also from MUN. My research interests are broadly clinical and health psychology, but specifically sleep, feeding and eating disorders, and psychosocial oncology. Under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Garland, I have the opportunity to engage in a wide array of cancer research. In my masters thesis, I am exploring the use of cannabis as a sleep aid for Canadian cancer survivors, which is an area we know little about. I am also coordinating a study that examines the cognitive impairment and wellbing of breast cancer survivors up to three years after their diagnosis. I am responsible for scheduling and conducting assessments with breast cancer survivors as well as data entry. After completing my MSc, my goal is to pursue a PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology so I can work as a registered clinical psychologist. Outside of my studies, I enjoy drawing digital art, singing, cooking, and hiking with friends.
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.
Academic Activities 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. Academic Goals and Personal Interests 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.