To start, what is your name, and what do you do with your student group?
Anika Gahun: My name is Anika Gahun, and I am a co-president at the Student Psychology Network (SPN). My other co-president is Nicole Antunes, and we both work together and facilitate the group.
What exactly is the Student Psychology Network, and why was it started?
AG: The Student Psych Network’s mission has changed since it started. It started almost 10 years ago, and for the last two or three years that I have been at SPN, it’s been students who are either interested in or a student of psychology. It is also for students who are interested in networking with other students or have questions about psychology, whether that is courses or questions about professors and course content. Hopefully, they can connect to opportunities as well because we have a volun teer opportunity page in case students want to build their CV and they want to get more experience.
What would students usually be able to expect, and what can they expect now?
AG: We hold speaking events. We usually find a guest speaker pertaining to the topic that we choose, and we invite people. This year has been online over Zoom or prerecorded, which is a bit of a different format, and we have cut back on events this year. In the first semester, we usually would have the Halloween talk. It’s always held by the club supervisor, who is a professor, and he usually picks his own topic within the realm of the Halloween theme. He speaks about it, and we organize the event and deco rate and post about it to social media. This year we had a talk about stress management with COVID. We have Valentine’s Day talks and a random acts of kindness event usually near finals in spring where, within our budget, we try to find small items for goody bags for students. Usually, we have the seasonal events, and then it depends on the executive team and if they feel like adding something. There was supposed to be an event in January, but I cancelled it. This semester we decided to take a more relaxed role and not put ourselves through as many events because, with covid, the interest and accessibility have changed. So, we don’t have anything planned except for an honours psychology question and answer.
What is your favourite part about SPN?
AG: I think it is that if you express your interest in a different topic in psychology or your thinking about declaring a major, you can advocate for that topic and start an event. Of course, for me, I did get to have more say this year as co-president. I decided to bring in Black and Indigenous psychologists because I believe that a lot of Black and Indigenous psychology is neglected at MacEwan University, so I wanted to bring that to an event, but it didn’t happen, unfortunately. However, we do make sure that everyone’s event choices are heard.
Will your BIPOC event be rescheduled?
AG: We originally thought about pushing it back a little so that we had a bit more time to plan. Unfortunately, we had so many different changes over the winter break and the new semester that we had to cancel. But we definitely contacted our speakers, and I hope to ensure that the next generation of executives see it through and do something surrounding that topic. So I definitely think next fall semester could be a possibility.
Where do you see SPN going in the future?
AG: I think this year, and in future years we are breaking with the same yearly events, and we are changing the topics and speakers. It was a bit more traditional before, but I hope it becomes more social-based, helping students figure out their undergrad and definitely standing up for topics in psychology regarding equality.
Is there anything that you would like potential student members to know?
AG: Know that you can just DM us. I love getting questions and messages from students that are even in their first year or aren’t even in psychology or considering it yet, and they have questions about the psych 104 or 105 class. Most executives have access to either Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and some psych student executives are usually in their third or fourth year, so we typically have a grasp on what’s in sight. All of us are really willing to help our peers, so just message us with any questions.
Edited for length and clarity. Image supplied.