Victoria Pietruszka is the 2018-2019 Chair-elect for the AP-LS Student Committee! Victoria has spent the last year preparing to take over as Chair, assisted the Conference Co-Chairs with the conference program, and worked on both the student member survey and developing the Diversity Liaison position. Further, Victoria serves as a student member on the Social Media Committee. Before serving as Chair-elect, Victoria was the Communications Officer during the 2017-2018 Term.
Victoria will become the Chair following the AP-LS Business Meeting at the APA Conference on August 8th. She answered some questions for us below:
If you could only have 3 non-psychology books on your bookshelf, what would they be?
This is a difficult question for me! I hope you mean non-psychology textbooks, because my first instinct was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Both of those books gave me some of the most memorable book hangovers I’ve had mostly because they were gut-wrenching. They also happen to be very relevant to psychology. My last one would likely be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because I need to add a sprinkle of English Literature onto the bookshelf.
If you were not in graduate school what would you do?
I would like to think I would be doing something creative with my time. During graduate school is actually when I came to realize that in order to keep myself grounded, I have to have a creative outlet in my life. It’s also helped me realize that working creatively is one of the only things I can do for large chunks of time without getting bored or running out of interests. I am a very tactile person, so coming away from a day’s effort with a tangible piece of work to show for it is extremely rewarding for me.
Why did you join the AP-LS Student Committee?
AP-LS as an organization is unique in the academic world. Generally speaking, I have found its members are welcoming, invested, and down to earth. Most of all, what helped me feel truly grateful for the field was how willing people have been to help and mentor. I joined the Student Committee because I saw it as a way to give back to an organization that I truly value and help provide input for ways to push it forward. I also truly enjoy working with other students from different programs. Someday, we as student affiliates will be colleagues in a more advanced sense and, seeing how close-knit several AP-LS members are, it’s never too early to start building those bonds.
What advice would you give undergraduate students thinking about graduate school?
There are so many things to say about this, but I will try to boil it down to what I believe are the most important points to take to heart. The first thing I say to most undergraduate students I speak to is this: There is a life on the other side of the application process, and you have to be happy with that life. I think a lot of students applying to graduate school are willing to overlook certain aspects of programs they would not be happy about in order to get into graduate school programs especially given how competitive the process is. I was rejected from several programs that I applied to, and while rejection stings, I sat back at the end of the day and realized that for different reasons I would not have been happy if I had attended—which I would have done if I had been accepted. I have also seen students who made sacrifices to attend a program they were accepted to and regret not taking that honest moment before their decision. So, I think students should take a step back and make sure that a program is truly right for them because fit is crucial. Make sure you have a clear idea of what your ideal career would be like and be honest about whether graduate school (and the type of program you attend) is the optimal way to get yourself there.
What is your favorite city and why?
So far that answer is Philadelphia. I moved here 5 years ago to attend graduate school. Philadelphians are… quirky to say the least. I mean, just look at our weird run-ins with swiss cheese, our—shall I say passionate?—sports fans, and our mascots (I’m talking to you, Gritty). In all seriousness though, I feel blessed to be in a city with so many opportunities in psychology and law. It is a major city but is surprisingly small and walkable. And on top of that, the food is absolutely amazing. What’s not to love?
About the Editor:
The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.