Journey of Finding Integrity in Oneself

I have been doubtful in my purposes in my journey of achieving a doctoral degree when I experienced so many adversities: the first time I was treated unequally because of my race and country of origin; the first time spending all days and nights in reading but can barely complete assignments; the first time worrying about graduation and money income as a 28-year-old woman without meeting the expectations of parents: getting married or having a stable job; and the first time struggling so deeply with my own belief but expelled from the fellowship group because I was considered so sinful. I have never met a life period that I come across such intense frustration, discrimination and sadness. I wanted to shout at those who picked on my race and nationality, but I also had to remind myself I don’t treat people in the way they treated me and become someone I hate so much. I wanted to isolate and escape from my work and from the environment filled with racism, sexism, xenophobia, and ignorant hatred; but there were so many uncontrollable things keep me moving forward and outside to get in touch with others.

During the days I internalized voices of doubt and shame, during the days I am confused with what I learned about therapy and intervention, something turned into my conscious awareness and knowledge that I would not pay attention to in the past. Until one day, my advisor looked at me and said, I am sorry that you are in such deep pain, but maybe it will make you a better therapist; until one day, my another advisor who is teaching our practicum said, isn’t pain the best gift of a relationship so that we know we had cared a person so much; until one day, I took a class on health disparity and inequity and truly understood some of the concepts and wished to do something about it. It is such an exciting and enlightening moment and I finally found my research interest in cultural and diversity issues, which took years, besides the fact that this area could be my lifetime career goal! I realized maybe there is a reason why I moved to deep south and experienced microaggressions; and until one day I looked back on my early years in the doctoral program and found the connection between my passion and endeavor on training and supervision and the negative experiences I had in supervision. I found myself being more understanding to marginalized populations as a minority, more insightful and thoughtful of American cultures as an international student, and more respectful and grateful to my own culture as a Chinese. I know I wouldn’t have gained these great qualities if I have not experienced these struggles at this life time. If I have not had deep struggles in my belief, I wouldn’t have known the truth in my Believer or how strong my faith could be. There are reasons leading me to this journey. I would not have met so many people that meant so much in my life, being my teachers, mentors, friends and colleagues. Sometimes it is easy to get lost when I was embedded in an emotional moment and hard to think beyond five days or a semester.

This is not an easy journey; we all want to give up at some point. But the experiences we have are meaningful in many ways, and we will finally get more power when we complete the degree. It is more than a degree; it is an acknowledgment of our efforts. And when we have more power, we will remember how to use it to empower more people, but not to abuse it. Maybe we will have the power to even change things we would like to change and have an influence on things we were negatively impacted. This is also a journey to find the integrity in ourselves: to know what we should do and avoid things we should not do. We don’t have to be influenced by the adversity, to be numb to others or to adapt to the power system or adverse environment, but to protect our honesty, kindness and wise heart; because there is a better place that deserves all these qualities and we don’t want to waste these gifted talents. I am also grateful that because of the struggles I had, I had met people who gave me support, who shared laughter, tears and dreams with me. In many ways we were deeply connected along the journey. I am not grateful for the people who hurt me or the ignorance running around them; but I am grateful for the transformation people and my Believer brought to me and the strengths I was given. Now at the 4th year in my doctoral career, I finally know that I will build confidence and competence one day. I have a sense of how to do great therapy. I discovered a true interest in research areas that is coming from life and reality. And there are many ways I can connect to others and help people who like me in the past.


This article has been contributed by Haidi Song, who is a 4th-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at Auburn University. She is the regional coordinator of Region 5 in Division 17 SAS.

To download the PDF version of this document, click here: Journey of Finding Integrity in Oneself

An Exclusive Interview with the SAS Co-Chairs (2018-19)

Ashley Schoener and Sam Colbert are the SAS Co-Chairs for the 2018-2019 term! They are both second year doctoral students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Read on for some excerpts of their interview!

Why did you want to be the SAS co-chair?

Sam: The main reason is that I believe in social justice. The Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP) and the Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS) Executive Board is very oriented towards social justice. Being able to advocate for social justice on a macro level is exciting and the opportunity to effect change is neat! We are both voting members on the SCP Executive Board. The fact that SCP gives students voting rights is a big indication of their social justice orientation! Also, given that we are the host institution, it is a real privilege while also being a large responsibility.

Ashley: It is amazing to have a network of individuals who are likeminded, passionate and have the same goals. Having access to such a large network of people who care about the same things is appealing. This network has given me the opportunity to get really involved in the field, which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do, otherwise. I think it is wonderful to have the opportunity to have an impact and work towards those goals…it gives you the opportunity to engage in outreach and social justice that we value as professionals.

What is your vision for SAS 2019?

Ashley: My vision for SAS is to improve the connection within the vast network! I would like SAS to be more involved with our members and give our members more opportunities to get involved with SAS. We are trying to offer opportunities for members to be on different committees as to spread the power and privilege that comes along with being part of SAS and Division 17. We are trying to reach out to the community as much as possible even within our own pillars and committees. Lastly, we want to standardize a lot of processes and make them leader-proof so that the transition process becomes easier.

Sam: I really want to see us hand over SAS as a well lubricated machine to the next host institution. Doing this is pivotal! SCP is doing a strategic planning initiative and I am hoping to apply some of those strategies to our own Executive Board. Like Ashley said, the larger goal for me is to distribute the power within SCP and SAS. The way I see that is through resources—we are trying to be fiscally responsible to the organization and the students! Being a voice for students in psychology…that’s a big deal! Even though graduate students are privileged in certain aspects, they are also marginalized in others. We are finding out ways that we can advocate for graduate students and taking that to the SCP Board.

What has SAS accomplished in the last year?

Ashley: SAS has done a lot with connecting our members, it has been extremely active this past year! We created a workshop about SAS, we have program representatives who are hosting events, dinners for their members, and we are also equitably distributing resources. We are providing funding to each of the SAS regions, so members can reach out to us to apply for funding to host events. We did monthly webinars too, which are now available on our Facebook page! Also, at APA we had a SAS social which brought together people from all over the world. This gave people the opportunity to form relationships and strengthen their connections.

Sam: We give out over 2000 dollars in awards every year for students. During APA we have three hospitality suite hours for different programming that we do. We have expanded the SAS Executive Board as well, to inform people about SAS.  We want to be able to continue to engage in webinars, send out letters of support for societal issues, and continue our outreach to communities and members.

What are your goals for SAS 2018-2019?

Sam: A big goal for me is to try and distribute financial resources strategically. We want to use these resources for student awards, projects, and getting resources to students in Counseling Psychology programs.

Ashley: To put it simply, we want to equitably distribute resources: whether that’s financial or power. By distribution of power, we mean we want to provide members with more of a voice on the Executive Board for SAS, and consequently SCP. We want to be the voice of the students on the Executive Board. We are doing this by creating positions on the SAS Executive Board which reach out to graduate students and SAS members, like the Scholarship, Engagement, and Collaboration Pillar and Promotions Chair within SAS.

What are you most excited about, for the upcoming year?

Sam: We have been working on a lot of things lately, and I am excited to see some of those efforts come to fruition! Also, given that we have started multiple initiatives in the past year, I am excited to see the kind of impact they will have…I am also excited about working with our SAS Board because the members have a lot of energy and a lot of experiences, and I want to see what kind of ideas and projects they have and want to implement.

Ashley: I am excited for APA! I am excited to help and make it better from last year…I am also excited for the applications to come in for the next host institution. It will be cool to be a part of the transition of giving other people all this power…it’s kind of like we get to leave our mark on the whole institution of SAS and this is a chance when we get to choose what that is!

What would you like our readers to know?

Sam: We want feedback as well! We have an email address and social media, please write to us!

Ashley: Get involved! An organization starts and ends with its members. The more activity there is all over the country, the more we can do! And the more gets done for our communities and for our members.

What do you want to tell institutes who are applying for hosting SAS?

Sam: It is a fantastic opportunity to have. We have a unique position to advocate for thousands of students… This is very important because we can influence change!

Ashley: It is a different kind of work, but it is unique! And that is what is special about it! It is very meaningful once you get involved and I would highly recommend institutions to apply!


Does your university want to be the next host institution for SAS? Click here to find out more!

To download the PDF version of this document, click here: Exclusive Interview with SAS Co-chairs!