Finding Your Voice in Pediatric Psychology
By: Perry A. Catlin, MS
“Not everything that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
It can be nerve-wracking to walk up in front of a crowd of peers, mentors and future colleagues to ask a question. Yet, it was in this moment that I knew, I had found my voice. But before I get into that, let me introduce myself. My name is Perry Catlin and I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Marquette University. I am originally from Toledo, Ohio, and I am the only child of a single mother. In 2007, she ran for the school board on a platform to improve our public school system. Although she was not elected, her advocacy and commitment left a lasting impression on one little boy in the crowd.
As a Black male student, I simultaneously embody identities of both privilege and disadvantage – depending on the context. My personal identity informs how I walk into classrooms, interact with patients, and the issues I aim to address through my research. Like many others, membership in SPP has been crucial in my training, affording me numerous opportunities to develop my professional identity and hone my skills as a clinician, researcher, and advocate. Over the years, SPP has increasingly acknowledged the importance of creating spaces that welcome diverse perspectives and thoughtful discourse. So, when the opportunity presented to serve SPP as the Student Representative, I sat in the moment and considered how I might be able to move the needle in a meaningful way.
As the Student Rep, I have the privilege of chairing the Student Advisory Board (SAB) and serving as a liaison on the SPP Board. Our current SAB consists of 14 incredible student leaders with diverse lived experiences and professional achievements. Collectively, we strive to advance SPP’s strategic efforts to recruit, engage, develop, and retain trainees from different backgrounds in order to foster a more equitable and inclusive professional organization. Through this experience I have had the opportunity to find and exercise my voice in many board meetings and professional settings. I left SPPAC 2023 excited to continue doing the work and inspired to encourage trainees within SPP to find their own voice. Joining the SAB is one way to share your unique perspective and learn transferrable leadership skills along the way. However, professional advocacy can look different for everyone – some people are comfortable writing letters, others are great at organizing events, and others may be willing to walk up to the mic and ask a question. Whatever it may be, however you choose to show up, know that your perspective and your voice deserve to be heard. It’s all about taking that first step.
It is an honor to call SPP my professional home, and a privilege to serve on behalf of our students and trainees. To find out how you can get involved within SPP, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s room at the table for everyone, and I look forward to seeing your contributions.