mECPS Spotlight on Zarina Giannone

CNPS M.A. Student, Zarina GiannoneIn April 2014, Counselling Psychology M.A. student Zarina Giannone was awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program—Master’s Scholarship (value: $17,500.00) by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Receiving the scholarship was only the beginning of a very busy and successful year for Zarina.  After running in an election for the section for students’ executive committee for the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), she was elected into the positions of Chair-Elect Section for Students and Director (Student Representative), Board of Directors.

The following interview highlights Zarina’s recent accomplishments and explains how she’s managed to accomplish so much, in such a short amount of time.  Also, let’s address that reoccurring question… “How do you manage it all?

On Applying for the SSHRC Scholarship

The process of applying for a major government scholarship was a tremendous learning opportunity. It took hours to figure out how to navigate the websites and application documents. To aid in this process, I attended a variety of workshops facilitated by the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. I also participated in one-on-one sessions with professors and fellow graduate students to help make the most of this experience and to receive important feedback on my application.

There was a moment after about the tenth draft of my research proposal that I wondered if all this work would be worth it…

Of course, after being awarded the scholarship, I was glad that I had put in all the work; however, as I reflect back on the process, I gain a deeper sense of appreciation for the learning experience that was inherent in the Tri-Council funding application process. I believe that I walked away with a new set of skills which will be helpful in future academic and research endeavours.

How has the award helped?

The monetary value of the award has eased the financial burden of being a graduate student. I am extremely grateful for the scholarship as it has allowed me the privilege of focusing on academic and research-related activities.

Receiving this award has been an honour and a privilege. I am so proud to be a part of this department at this wonderful university. I am also eagerly anticipating the next step of my thesis project with esteemed research supervisor, Dr. Colleen Haney.

Attending her first CPA convention

I’ve been involved with the organization since 2011, but realized as soon as I set foot in the convention (on June 5, 2014) that I have been missing out on some incredible opportunities over the past few years! My first impression of the CPA 75th Annual Convention was extremely positive. It was so exciting to be among so many people who are not only leading researchers in our field, but who also share a fundamental passion for psychology and education. I really enjoyed meeting people from across the country and connecting on shared research and professional interests.

I cannot begin to express how much I learned over the three days that I spent at the convention attending workshops, seminars, poster presentations, and social events.

Chairing a round table at CPA 75

I chaired a round table discussion titled “Life after Sport” which was based on my Master’s Thesis project. The presentation consisted of a brief overview of the topic and a review of previous and current research relating to the construct known as Athletic Identity. Following this, I facilitated an in-depth discussion with conference delegates who offered diverse perspectives on the adverse outcomes characteristic of athletes upon sport career retirement.

Chairing a round table as a first year Master’s student was intimidating at first. I remember looking around the room and seeing distinguished researchers and thinking “what on earth am I doing here?”. Despite my apparent “imposter syndrome”, I believe that I was successful in conveying my passion and knowledge of this area of research. Our conversation consisted of reflecting on the experience of athletes in transition and highlighting the significance of future research in this area.

CPA student representative roles

Since 2011, my first role with the CPA was titled, “UBC Campus Student Representative” which included responsibilities such as planning, organizing and hosting events and workshops on behalf of the CPA. I enjoyed this position for two years but was looking to take my involvement with the organization to next level in the position of Chair-Elect. Each year, a few different positions on the Student Executive become available. This year the Chair-Elect position was one of them, so I submitted my application and ran in the election.

I was very excited to hear that I was elected onto the Student Executive. I also acquired the position of Director (Student Representative) on the CPA Board of Directors, which is a mandatory commitment in addition to the role of Chair-Elect.

Chair-Elect, Section for Students, Canadian Psychological Association:
In this role, I will be serving a three year term on the Student Executive for the Section for Students for the Canadian Psychological Association. I was elected into the position of Chair-Elect for 2014-2015 year. I will transition into the position of Chair in 2015-2016, and move into the position of Past-Chair in 2016-2017.
There are a number of duties which I am responsible for in this position including conference preparation, presentation and workshop development, as well as managing student submissions to MindPad (our student psychology journal) and Psynopsis (the CPA’s official psychology magazine). Other tasks include managing section budgets, making decisions regarding current and future student initiatives and finding new and innovative ways to connect students with the CPA. The primary purpose of this position is to represent psychology students from across Canada at all levels of education and to function as their voice, advocating, if necessary, to ensure that we are heard.

Director (Student Representative), Board of Directors, Canadian Psychological Association: 
In this role, I will be serving a three year term as the Student Representative on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Psychological Association. The chief responsibility in this role is to attend all board meetings which are held in different cities across Canada, three times per year, and to participate in the decision-making process for the organization. My position as Student Representative allows me to speak for all Psychology students in Canada and to represent them on the Board of Directors when important motions are being passed.
There are two other significant duties involved with this role. First, I am required to attend “Board Ambassador Tours” which include travelling to different universities in Canada, spreading awareness of our association and strengthening relations with faculty and students. Second, I serve as an Executive Member on the Canadian Psychological Association’s Membership Committee. This position enables me to assist in fostering growth and improvement in the quality and quantity of our organization’s membership.

What does it take to manage both roles successfully?

As a former UBC Varsity athlete, time management has become second nature to me. Managing both of these roles, as well as other school and life commitments, has become a daily balancing act.

I believe that the key to managing everything well involves being organized, prepared and making loads of to-do lists! Staying positive is important too.

What does your upcoming academic school year look like?

My upcoming academic school year is going to be busy, but exciting! I am starting in the UBC Clinic in New Westminster in September and I am anxiously anticipating my first interactions with real clients. Additionally, I intend to defend my thesis proposal by December, pass ethics in January, and jump right into data collection by late winter/early spring. I am also taking courses this year and will continue in my position as a Research Assistant.

What advice would you give to fellow/future students who are juggling such a heavy workload?

Balance is the key. Get the work done and then go have some fun. Or the other way around. Either way, both are absolutely essential to success in my humble opinion!

Balance for me includes living a healthy lifestyle, eating well, exercising regularly and getting adequate rest.

What are you most looking forward to this upcoming year?

I am really looking forward to the next CPA convention being held in Ottawa in June, 2015. I plan on doing some travelling afterwards.

Travel brings a fresh perspective to one’s life experience.



 mECPS is a campaign that shares inspiring stories about ECPS students. 

~ Story by:  Julie Acres