Graduate Student Representative Column

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Keoshia Harris

Keoshia Harris

Greetings Division 45 Family!

The year of 2020 was envisioned to encompass times of celebration, renewal, reconnection, and new beginnings. This vision quickly changed as the pandemic began to spread and devastate families across the world. At that moment, I knew the year of 2020 would change our lives forever. 

From the immediate school closures to the stay-at-home orders, the level of uncertainty continued to rise as we tuned into the daily news for answers to our countless questions. Our realities and routines changed quickly as we learned more about how to care for ourselves, our families, and most importantly, prevention strategies related to the virus. As COVID-19 echoes in our minds, we are incited with panic and fear when performing necessary tasks such as visiting the grocery store. The growing worry we have about older family members’ health and their susceptibility to the virus. The trepidation we experienced as we were uprooted from our housing on campus and subsequently unemployed, resulting in uncertainty about our financial status. Senior graduating students are faced with the harsh reality of not having security after years of rigorous and tireless hours of preparing for their life after graduation. The shift of all responsibilities to an online platform (e.g., teaching, research, classes, etc.) was overwhelming as we strived to make the transition as seamless as possible. The difficulties we had concentrating as “Zoom fatigue” slowly began to set in week after week. We attempted to compartmentalize all these emotions while still meticulously attending to course assignments, dissertations, and publications, which was not an easy undertaking. Through it all, we were still able to successfully complete a semester and remain Division 45 strong!

For these reasons and many more that were not listed above, you all deserve to be celebrated for your demonstrated level of resilience to persevere through these challenging times. When pursuing your respective degrees, the panels we attended did not explicitly discuss how to attain academic success during a pandemic. Thus, we all navigated these unchartered waters as best we could. Our individual journeys through this time was and continues to be difficult as we constantly adapt. You would be invalidating your experience and discounting your strength to describe this semester as a time of “just working from home.” I would encourage you all to exercise self-compassion, reflect on the triumphs, and virtually embrace one another.

Traditionally, marginalized groups are disproportionately more disadvantaged when crises occur. COVID-19 has been no different. The narrative being constructed by the news regarding the coronavirus has negatively impacted Asian populations. I would encourage you all to critically analyze these messages and decipher through to extract the necessary information, while maintaining an inclusive attitude that is aligned with the Division 45 mission.

The student committee has a new initiative, Social Connectedness. The student committee has been working diligently to create avenues for the student members to be more engaged and to provide support during these difficult times. With this initiative, we hoped to create a greater sense of community and provide representation of students of color thriving in their respective environments. If you want to participate, please do the following: Take a picture of yourself engaging in something that helps to rejuvenate you or brings a sense of peace, create a caption describing the photo and how it rejuvenates you, use the hashtag (#Empowered45), and tag us in the photo. We are doing this on all of our social media platforms. Follow us on Twitter: @apadiv45; Facebook: Division 45 Student Members; Instagram: @apa_division45. If you do not have a social media account and would like to participate, please send your inquiry to We look forward to your posts! Also, check our social media pages for updates related to any new initiatives and opportunities to support students. 

In the midst of these turbulent times, the student committee also wants to send a special congratulations to the graduating class of 2020! We are proud of you for this amazing accomplishment. Please also join us in congratulating Bahaur! She was recently elected as the Student Member at Large for American Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African Psychological Association (AMENA-Psy). AMENA-Psy aims to provide support, advocate for public issues, and promote best practices in mental health care for Arab/MENA populations. These are just a few of the many things that AMENA-Psy’s mission entails. This is a great accomplishment! I also want to send a special shout out to all of the student committee members: Renato, Aashna, Christina, Terrill, Linda, Krystal, Chaniqua, Pamela, Rylan, Savannah, Nelson, Bahaur, Alyssa, Lydia, Kaleen, Albert, Ida, and Karen. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. I appreciate each and every one of you for the tireless dedication you show for this division. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to work with each of you as a student leader.

Before ending, I ask each of you to reconceptualize your experience of “just working from home” and instead, consider this a transformative period that provided you with the opportunity to reevaluate and reflect on things. Hopefully, your light for your 2020 vision is no longer dim and you have created a new way to celebrate, reconnect, and refresh. The student committee hopes that you and your family are well during these times! We look forward to connecting with you all soon.


Keoshia Harris
Division 45 Student Representative

Focus Spring 2020