Meet the president of the Western Psychology Association, Sommer Knight! Sommer will be taking the role of president for a second time in the 2017-2018 year. Below, Sommer talks about the different events the WPA will be hosting next year, and how students can get involved!
Tell me about your work with the Western Psych Association.
This year I’m going to be president, and I was actually president last year, so I’ve been in this role for approximately a year and I’ll be going into it again, which I’m really excited to do. My role within the WPA is to oversee all activities with the club. I facilitate with the department as well: I sit on the undergraduate affairs committee and provide academic concerns and feedback students have. We try and figure out ways to improve [psychology] and figure out ways to help students exceed as well, so we host academic events, and we also have fun events where people can socialize and meet with profs. WPA is an academic and social club, and we help people have fun in the program but help people exceed in the program as well.
What are some misconceptions that Western students have about psychology?
There’s actually a lot! Number one: people think that in psychology all people do is psychoanalyze people, but what people don’t know is that psychology is so diverse—there’s social psychology, personality, psychology in the workplace… Psychology is about human behaviour, and human behaviour is diverse and expressed in many different ways, so that’s what we do: we study exactly that. We try to get rid of those misconceptions that people have.
What has been your favourite part of being president the WPA so far?
So far, it’s been restructuring everything. What people don’t know is that WPA never had a public page, we introduced one this year; we never had a public display board, which we now have outside. What I felt was that WPA lacked presence in the department and not a lot of students knew about it. We’re a departmental club: we’re here to help students have the best experience they can in the psychology program, so we rebranded it. The fun part was being able to start anew and implement my own ideas.
What can you tell us about what the WPA has in store for next year?
We have a lot of successful events, and what we’re going to do for sure is have a writing clinic. What we’ve been told recently is that a lot of students in [Psych 2800] having to write psychology papers for the first time struggle a lot, so I think it would be a great idea if we had a writing clinic where we brought in graduates and upper-years to help students write and improve their grade in the course. Other stuff we’re going to do is keep our networking night, that’s our biggest event and has always been a success, so that will definitely be there. We did a collaboration this year with the DMSA for a charity event, raising $155, which was great. I think it’d be great if we collaborated with another club like Active Minds, for a really big mental health initiative. There’s a lot in store; we have a new exec team, so I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say. Another big thing that’s happening next year is the department newsletter. Psych currently doesn’t have a newsletter. We’re going to call it the Synapse, to update students on events and what’s going on, so that’s another project we’ll be working on as well.
What would you tell a student who was interested in getting more involved with the WPA?
I would tell them to definitely do it. WPA is more than just a club, at least to myself; it is an opportunity to foster growth in the psychology department, a chance to build relations with peers, and a possibility to improve your overall student experience. If you want to learn about what psychology truly is and the different ways people behave, how we interact with people and how that influences us and the way that we think, then this is the club for you.
What is your personal favourite part of psychology?
I am in clinical psychology, that is my speciality. Through this club, we send out emails each month with volunteer and research opportunities, and my favourite part is that: being able to work in the community and actually see people from the clinical psychology background apply their skills—that to me is probably the best part.
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely want to become a clinical psychologist. That has always been a favourite part for me: the ability for people to willingly tell me their story, be vulnerable with me, allow me to validate their feelings and for us to work on a way to improve and that they willingly want to do that. That has always been my niche and what I love to do. I’m in my third year now, going into fourth year, so I’ll be applying to different programs.
Weldon or Taylor?
Starbucks or Tim’s?
Ceeps or Frog?
Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Harry Potter for sure.
Freud: yay or nay?
See, people have a lot of misconceptions about Freud. Freud is definitely a yay for me and I’m going to say that because he made the biggest breakthrough in psychology: discovering the unconscious. Although the rest of his theories are controversial, with the unconscious you cannot deny the impact he’s had on psychology.