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Monthly Message from President O’Connor - April 2024

 As April begins, we mark the start of Graduate Student Appreciation Week, and I find myself reflecting on my own journey as a first-generation undergraduate and graduate student. Navigating career paths during this time was a journey filled with uncertainties. But once I found my passion for psychology, and with strong mentors and peer support, I saw a wealth of possibilities waiting to be discovered. After I became a professor, I had the privilege of advising so many students about the many career paths that are possible through a deep understanding of human behavior, in psychology, behavioral health, science and practice.

Building on this reflection, I'm excited to shine a light on PAU's podcast series, Talking Mental Health Careers (TMHC), which provides invaluable insights into the diverse career paths available in psychology and counseling. In episodes such as "Career Paths and Mental Health in the Digital Age," "Insights and Experiences from the Field: Integrating Behavioral Health," and "Exploring Careers in Sport and Performance Psychology: Game-Changers," PAU faculty and colleagues share their experiences, discuss their own journeys, and offer practical advice.

I have now had the privilege of hosting two episodes of TMHC. The first, "Trauma-informed Care: Career Insights from Frontline Mental Health Experts," featured PAU faculty and alums who are doing deeply important work in trauma-informed care. And, for the second, the latest episode where we delved into the intersection of human rights and mental health, I had the pleasure of interviewing three amazing psychologists, two who served with me on the American Psychological Association's (APA)’s Task Force on Human Rights (which culminated in a final report and resolution on human rights), and PAU's own Dr. Sita Patel. We explored how these psychologists ground their work in a human rights framework, and we discussed topics such as trauma, healing, and policy advocacy at the United Nations. In today's world, rife with ongoing atrocities, this conversation underscores the vital importance of mental health professionals engaging in human rights advocacy.

The Talking Mental Health Careers podcast series serves as a testament to the transformative potential of education, research, and clinical training in psychology and counseling. I invite all our community members to tune in, explore the diverse array of career paths, and share this invaluable resource with your networks. 

To our current and future students, my hope is that this series will inspire you with the boundless possibilities that await. We see how hard you work and how much you give—we appreciate you.