Dana Voelker, Student Representative
Biography: Dana’s passion for sport psychology arose from her early experiences as a young competitor and continues to develop as a recreational athlete. At the age of six, she was introduced to the uniquely artistic and physically challenging sport of figure skating.
Turning to ice hockey at sixteen, she was introduced to a whole new spectrum of sport that included a team environment. Earning a captainship role in both high school and college, she discovered an untapped ability for leadership that continues to make an impact on other realms of her life, including research projects and outreach initiatives. As a student and aspiring professional who remains physically active and competitive, she continues to discover the many ways that sport psychology positively influences her own development and that of others.
Knowing that a career in sport was in her future, Dana graduated with a BA in psychology and a minor in kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University. She played four years on the women’s club ice hockey team and became an advocate for gender equity in club sports. Testing her professional interests, she worked in the Penn State concussion lab, cognitive psychology lab, and sport psychology lab. In an effort to learn more about the applied aspect of sport psychology, she also spent her summers working in the Mental Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh Sports Medicine Center. There she played a lead role in research projects and assisted in the development of the annual Student Athlete Leadership Academy held for Pittsburgh-area high school athletes.
Dana began her doctoral studies at Michigan State University (MSU) in the fall of 2007 under the direction of Dr. Dan Gould. She immediately began leading research projects to examine the youth sport captaincy experience and building a youth leadership development program hosted by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA). She has presented this line of work at two AASP conferences and given leadership workshops to coaches and athletes in multiple venues.
In turn, Dana began a master’s degree in counseling at MSU in the fall of 2008. Over the course of her graduate school career thus far, she has completed a counseling internship at the MSU Counseling Center and continues to work with numerous athletes and teams. Following graduation, she will seek licensure as a professional counselor and certification as a sport consultant. Taken together, her career goals include research, teaching, outreach, and applied work. As a young and aspiring professional, she is looking forward to many years as a committed and devoted member of the AASP organization, assisting in its growth and progress.
Dana has been an active student member of the AASP since 2004. She has served as a graduate student representative for the Continuing Education Committee, has been a student abstract reviewer for the AASP Annual Conference, and participated in several special interest groups.
At the 2009 AASP Annual Conference, Dana organized and led the student social activity and assisted with the Expo. She has made three presentations at AASP Annual Conferences and presented a research proposal at the Midwest AASP Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium in 2009. Her manuscript with Dr. Dan Gould is currently in press in the new Journal of Sport Psychology in Action operated by AASP. Dana will also be co-presenting a workshop at the 2010 AASP Annual Conference.
Most recently, Dana has become a Student Initiative Leader for the Performance Excellence Movement newsletter, become an active member of the Community Outreach Committee, and has sought mentorship from Dr. Amanda Visek as a student-pilot initiative through the Mentorship Match Program. She continues to serve as a Regional Student Representative for the South Central region.
Position Statement: As a student member for six years, I have developed a vision of how AASP can grow and develop into an even stronger organization. If given the opportunity to serve as a Student Representative, three primary objectives will guide my leadership efforts. In accordance with the old adage, “Practice what you preach,” these objectives are based on foundational principles germane to our field, including positive modeling, communication, and relationship building.
First and foremost, I want to promote the organization in the positive and professional manner that it deserves and to advocate for the key goals that the organization strives to achieve. These include endorsing the blend between science and practice, demonstrating an appreciation for interdisciplinary collaboration, and supporting the consulting profession and AASP certification. Through both personal conduct and formal and informal opportunities to interact with AASP members, I hope to assist the organization in demonstrating professionalism, organization, and leadership.
In addition to being a positive model myself, I want to help the AASP in its efforts to develop a positive image that welcomes a diverse range of members, including those who are not already associated with the organization. For example, we might devise ways to market ourselves as an association that invites those who are both clinically and educationally trained and create a safe space for constructive discussion and collaboration. Training diversity may be one important Think Tank topic to be considered at Regional Conferences. More specifically, students from a range of graduate programs might share their experiences, learn the value of different types of training being acquired by others, and identify potential ways to improve collaboration for the future of our field. With these types of efforts, we can promote an image of inclusiveness and productivity.
As a Student Representative, I would be in an optimal position to continue increasing student involvement and work to cultivate a greater sense of belonging and cohesion among student members. If students are personally invested, believe in the organization, and recognize its benefits, then collaboration and morale will remain positive. Enhancing communication is one way that these goals can be achieved.
For example, through social media forums, the website, conference calls, publications, and conversation, we can continue to (a) give students a voice and elicit student opinion (e.g., continue conference calls with Regional Student Representatives, discuss ways for all representatives to reach out to the greater student membership, give students a place to discuss important and even controversial issues in our field, survey the student membership to collect their feedback and identify their needs), (b) promote involvement in student initiatives (e.g., disseminate an AASP-wide call for Performance Excellence Movement article proposals), (c) encourage participation in student events (e.g., publicize the incentives for attending the student social, student meeting, and regional conferences), (d) more clearly define and communicate student roles in the organization (e.g., discuss roles and responsibilities with current and future Regional Student Representative