Dr. Frank C. Worrell was born in Port of Spain, Capital of Trinidad and Tobago, and he remembers growing up in an area where the only running water in the house was from the tap in the kitchen. In this podcast interview, Dr. Worrell begins talking about his academic and professional journey by recalling where he and his parents grew up and how hard his parents worked to support the family. His parents were born in little fishing villages in Trinidad and Tobago, and he shares that his “mum eventually became an elementary school teacher.”
Dr. Worrell liked education and his favorite subject growing up was English, so he was going to study English at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad campus. However, he shares an experience that changed his life and started him down the path of psychology. In fact, it was his interest in psychology that made him leave Trinidad “because psychology was not offered as a subject, even undergraduate, at the University of the West Indies.” He further explains “I’m the first in my family, the third of four kids, and the first to go to college, and so they agreed to let me go to Canada.” Dr. Worrell shares how he ended up attending the University of Western Ontario for his BA in Psychology and his MA in Educational Psychology. He explains why he changed his major from English to psychology and reveals how his father helped him while he was in school. In particular, his father came out of retirement and started working two jobs to pay for his tuition and he encouraged him to apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship which helped pay for his junior and senior year in college.
After completing his master’s degree in educational psychology at Western, Dr. Worrell went back to Trinidad and was an English teacher and school counselor for a year. Then he was a Principal of a private, low-tuition school where the kids had been kicked out or flunked out of the regular school system and explains this is where he “got very interested in the factors that pushed kids out of school.” After spending a couple years in Trinidad, Dr. Worrell thought that he would go back to Canada and probably go back to Western to do his PhD, however, one of his best friends was at UC Berkeley and asked him if he was considering applying to Berkeley. His friend sent him a catalog and he ended up applying to many different schools that offered a graduate school psychology program. Out of all the schools in California that offer a graduate program in psychology, Dr. Worrell explains why he selected UC Berkeley.
Dr. Worrell completed his postdoctoral work in clinical training at the Center for Educational Diagnosis and Remediation (CEDAR) Clinic within the College of Education at Pennsylvania State University. We then discuss his first professorship as an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at Penn State where he remained from 1994 to 2003 as an Assistant and Associate Professor before going back to UC Berkeley as an Associate Professor in Cognition and Development. Dr. Worrell eventually becomes the Director of the School Psychology Program, Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program and the California College Preparatory Academy. He is also an Affiliate Professor of the Social and Personality Program in the Department of Psychology and a Distinguished Professor of Education in the School Psychology Program at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Worrell is the author of more than 300 articles and book chapters, and he has received numerous awards for his teaching, service, and research. Recently, he received the Distinguished Lecturer award from the National Association of School Psychologists. Dr. Worrell and his co-editors Paula Olszewski-Kubilius and Rena F. Subotnik received the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Scholar Book of the Year Award two years in a row for two different books. They received the NAGC Scholar Book of the Year Award in 2019 for their book “Talent Development as a framework for Gifted Education: Implications for Best Practices and Applications in Schools” (Prufrock Press, 2018). In 2020, they received the award again for their book “The Psychology of High Performance: Developing Human Potential into Domain-Specific Talent” (American Psychological Association, 2019).
Dr. Worrell has been active at the APA for a long time serving as a member at large of the Board of Directors from 2016-2018 and serving as President of the APA’s Division of School Psychology in 2007 and then on the APA Council of Representatives representing that Division from 2010-2015. He is a member of seven APA divisions, with fellow status in five, and has served on multiple APA committees, boards, and task forces.
Dr. Worrell’s service as the current President of the American Psychological Association (APA) will end at the end of this year. During our discussion, he reflects on his time as President, discusses his goals and accomplishments, and shares the important work the APA is doing for psychologists and society. In his video candidacy statement, Dr. Worrell said “…the APA and APA President need to be inward and outward facing to continue the substantial transformational changes in the organization while communicating psychological knowledge and expertise to other organizations in the world.” He also wanted to ensure that everybody’s voice would feel heard during council meetings by making sure to “include and amplify the diverse multiple and varied voices in psychology.” Upon reflection, Dr. Worrell shared that many members told him that “they felt their voices were heard” and that “people left the meetings actually feeling positive about what happened” even if their side did not win the vote or the motion they supported did not pass. He is also proud of the work that the APA did in response to the mass shootings by taking out a full-page ad in the US News alongside eight other associations. The APA also submitted comments or spoke out against anti-Semitism, anti-Asian, and Roe vs. Wade to bring “the scientific, the psychological science to bear on these issues” and “share that with the public.” Additionally, in 2021, the APA passed an apology to people of color for APA’s role in perpetuating racism and discrimination and also passed a resolution saying that psychology would work to end societal racism and discrimination. Then, in 2022, the APA followed up by passing a racial equity action plan which they will continue working on in the future. Dr. Worrell states, “I’m proud of the year we’ve had” and “I’m glad I made the decision to serve at this time.”
Near the end of our discussion, we discuss some of the broad strands of psychology including basic research or developmental psychology, applied psychology, and health service psychology which he explains “really encompasses three major strands: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and school psychology.” He then discusses these in more depth and summarizes by stating “So, clinical psychologists get more emphasis on psychopathology than the other two. Counseling psychologists get more emphasis on sort of self-actualization than the other two. School psychology get a much more emphasis on school-based practice than the other two.”
Throughout the podcast, Dr. Worrell shares his experience and advice for those interested in the field of psychology. For example, those interested in getting funding for your graduate degree should know that “applying for a doctoral degree is going to give you much more funding than applying for a masters.” He also suggests that you take a look at those “things that resonate for you in psychology” and “once you’ve decided what that is, worry less about becoming a superstar and think about doing good work. If you do good work, the rest will follow.”
Interests and Specializations
Dr. Frank C. Worrell’s research interests include at-risk youth, talent development and gifted education, cultural identities, scale development and validation, time perspective, teacher effectiveness, and the application of psychological research findings into school-based practice.
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology with Honours (1985); University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Master of Arts (MA), Educational Psychology (1987); University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Educational and School Psychology (1994); University of California, Berkeley, CA.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Frank Worrell to the show. Dr. Worrell is the current President of the American Psychological Association. He is also a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he serves as Faculty Director of the School Psychology program and the Academic Talent Development program. Today, we will learn more about his academic and professional journey, learn more about his experiences in the APA, and hear the advice he has for those interested in the field of psychology and those who want to become more involved in the APA. Dr. Worrell, welcome to our podcast.
Thank you very much for the kind invitation.
Well, I appreciate taking the time out of your busy schedule. I’m really excited to learn a little bit more about your education and your journey. One of the fun things that I get to do in preparation for all these interviews is look up everything that you’ve done and you, you have a wide variety of experiences, but I read someplace that you were born in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and you originally wanted to become an English teacher? Tell me more about your life growing up in Trinidad and how you found your way to the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
Yeah, so thank you for that question. You know both of my parents were born in little fishing villages in Trinidad, Tobago, very poor families and in fact when they moved to the capital, they were living in these, sort of the equivalent of a favela in Brazil, you know, ghetto region and so forth. The only running water in the house came in the tap in the kitchen and our shower was outside and all of that. Uhm, and they worked very hard. My mum eventually became an elementary school teacher. She went to teachers training college was only two years and became an elementary school teacher and, so, the idea of hard work and education was always very, very important in the household. And so, I was going to school and doing pretty OK, you know, in elementary school I was not the most diligent student to be really honest. Ah, but work came easily to me, and particularly English was my favorite subject. And so, then I go on to secondary school and that continued to be the case, and so I decided I want to be an English teacher. So, you know, I like you know, I like education. It’s sort of in the family blood kind of thing, and that’s what I was going to do. So, I wanted to, I was going to study English, which is offered at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad campus. But I was at a school concert in Trinidad, a calypso time, and calypso is our national music, and a student was singing a calypso, criticizing the school administration, which is perfectly legitimate. But in the middle of his performance, he stopped singing. And he started cursing the principal, the teachers, and you know they, he was rushed off stage and, and we were all left, wow, and I didn’t know him personally. I knew his face. I’d seen him around, but he was not a friend of mine, and he never came back to the school. And so, there was, you know, he was on drugs, he had a mental breakdown, there were all of these questions, and I was like but you want to be a teacher, so perhaps you should study psychology alongside English, because that would be a good thing as a teacher, to know, to understand. We didn’t have psychologists or even counselors in the schools in Trinidad at that point. And so, it’s because I actually went into the psychology that I had to leave Trinidad, because psychology was not offered as a subject, even undergraduate, at the University of the West Indies. And so, my parents agreed to let me pursue higher education outside the country. I’m the first in my family, the third of four kids, and the first to go to college, and so they agreed to let me go to Canada. It was cheaper than the US and the UK, so, so Canada was default, and the University of Western Ontario accepted me. I hoped to go to the University of Toronto, but they didn’t take me. They turned me down. So, I had to go to Western and it was perhaps one of the best things that that the cosmos ever did for me because I would not trade my education at Western for anything in the world.
Well, it seems like it because later on in your career you even went back, and you actually helped out and advised there later on as well. We kind of go chronologically in order here, and so you already told me a little bit about that incident that actually started you thinking well, what if I became a teacher to help somebody like this and wondering why? Did you ever find out why? What happened with that student? What, what happened?
No, I never did find out. But you know, one of the most interesting things that happened was last year in February I was interviewed by one of the student reporters here at Berkeley for Black History Month and they posted the interview online. You know the Daily Californian, I think, is the name of our paper and it was picked up by somebody I don’t know how people are paying attention, but it was posted on the listserv of my high school, my, the Facebook group of my high school in Trinidad, my secondary school. And so, there was this big debate actually in there about the fact that I had said I was gay and people saying why did he mention that? And I always knew and there was a whole set of debate going on around that, but then they the story, they turned to discussing the incident. And there are people who said, I remember I was at that concert and remember and somebody said he became a teacher.
But, but, yeah, and I never saw him again, but somebody said that he did become a teacher himself that young man so.
That’s, uh, that’s unreal. And you know, a lot of things happen when you’re onstage. When I was teaching, stage fright comes into play and, and so that could have been something, or it could have been a combination of that and other things as well. But it’s always interesting to find out if you ever connected back with that other person.
Yeah, I don’t know. But he led me on a journey that, that really has was changed my life.
Yeah, yeah. It sounds like it. It sounds like it, and you have quite a diverse journey as I’m looking at the other screen here as well. Tell us a little bit more about your undergraduate studies and, and you know what caused you to kind of change direction and pursue psychology instead of becoming an English teacher.
Right, my life is a, a set of chance incidents, or coincidences? Or you know chance events, that, that, that point, point me in the right direction. Uhm, so I started off doing English and psychology, but I was doing more English courses and I did an intro psychology course and in my freshman year my father so. As I said, my parents didn’t have a lot of money and I was the 1st going to college and I’m going out of, out of the country and my mother had hoped I would win a scholarship. A national scholarship which would pay, which I did not do, my grades were not the best. Uhm, and, but they agreed. My father took over, uhm, my father took over paying for me. You know, he retired already, started working two jobs to pay for my tuition. My mom took over the household expenses and she was still working as a teacher. And in my first semester, my father sent me, and this was pre phones, we didn’t have a telephone, sent me a letter indicating that there was this thing in the paper advertising scholarships in Canada. Trinidad and Canada are both members of the British Commonwealth and so there was a Commonwealth Scholarship, and I should apply for it. And my response was I called the neighbors who had a phone and had dad come across and I said, but you know, I’m sure this is for grad school, you know and stuff and my father, you know, but he’s paying, and he says apply, it doesn’t hurt.
So, I applied, and I didn’t get it. And, uhm, you know, I got a nice thing back saying thank you for applying, this is typically given to graduate students and, and so forth, so. Then the following fall, my Papa wrote me again and said that scholarship is in the paper again and you should apply.
No use arguing. I applied, but I think what made the difference is now I had my professors from freshman year wrote letters of recommendation. I never did see those letters, but I think they must have been very good because, uhm, I actually got put on the short list, you know. And then eventually did get that scholarship which paid for my junior and senior year, but it was for psychology because psychology was a discipline Trinidad did not have and so I went from being sort of an English major and a psychology minor to a psychology major and English minor and stuff. So that’s how I actually ended up going all into psychology, but my undergraduate studies I really enjoyed, I think, one of the things that’s, in the British system your final grade is dependent really on your final exam. So, you are working all year, but your grade for the year is dependent on how you do on your final exam. So, when I got to Canada, that was the first time that the idea you know, I write an essay now, you know, early in the semester it contributes to my final grade. And I think I needed a little bit of that extrinsic push, so I and I also needed to my mother had actually guilted me big time about not doing my best in high school. So, I vowed she would never be able to tell me if she had said to me at the end of when I got my high school grades, “you did not do your best, I have nothing to celebrate.” Those were the words. So, I worked very hard, and the Canadian system is a little bit kind of like the British system, but the American system. So, we had yearlong courses so intro to psych in most US universities is a one semester course. In Canada, it’s a one-year course. Developmental psych is a one-year course, so I have far fewer courses on my transcript. But you got to go into them in depth both and in the English department as well. And so, you really got a really good sense of a discipline. Uhm, and, uhm, so I really enjoyed my undergraduate studies in Canada. I also took a couple anthropology courses, including one on peoples of the Caribbean, and it’s interesting thing to look at your country from sort of outside…
…through the eyes of, lenses of, of researchers.
It’s interesting yes, and, and, I know that you, you eventually graduated with your BA in psychology with honors at the University of Western Ontario, and then you decided to stay there and pursue your master’s degree. So, at what point during your undergrad did you know that you wanted to continue graduate studies in psychology?
Again, another interesting question that there was serendipity. So, I had decided to, the honors degree in Canada was four years long and it was typically done if you were going to grad school. Now, I had not been thinking about graduate school because even though I was minoring in English and I liked, and I decided I liked psychology a lot, I had thought, well, I’ll be going back to Trinidad as a teacher and then you know, and I thought that was going to be fine. But in my senior year we were told, you know, as an honors student, you have to do a thesis. And so, you had to do thesis, and so I decided that I had this English and psychology love that I was going to marry those two for my thesis, and I proposed an evaluation study. There was a writing program in the English department that helped undergraduates be better writers and I was going to do an evaluation of that study for my psychology honors thesis. I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I had an advisor in English and advisor in psychology and they met for the first time, and I learned about university politics. My advisor in psychology was a full professor, tenured. My advisor in English was an assistant professor, new to the university, and was given this program to run. They met for the first time and the English professor said to the, the assistant professor said to the full professor if the evaluation is not positive, I don’t want it published. Now, I wasn’t even thinking publication. I’m doing a thesis. I haven’t thought publication. My psychology advisor said, “I cannot agree to that.” And so, my thesis fell apart. I walked home that day in tears. And I had to cobble together a thesis, but I’ve been doing pretty good work, so I didn’t, I had wanted to get the thesis prize, but I didn’t. I didn’t even have a shot, so I did not get the thesis prize. But it turns out there was a gold medal in psychology, which I didn’t know existed, and I actually graduated top of my class in psychology. And so, one of the things that came with that, graduating at the top of the class, was an invitation to do graduate work at the institution.
And so, then I had this chance of doing a master’s degree. And I thought, well, I’ll get more education in psychology, this will be useful to me. So I convinced, the powers that be in Trinidad because I owed them service after my two years my junior and senior year that they had paid for that, you know, if they’d give me, you know, a bit of a spare, you know, give me a, a year more, they’d get a more qualified person for their investment.
OK, well that’s interesting. It’s uh, it fell apart. It sounds like your thesis fell apart, but in the end you graduated at the top of your class and, and it eventually was pulled together and then eventually after you received your Master of Arts in Educational Psychology, you attended the University of California, Berkeley for your doctorate in educational and school psychology so I know that there are many schools in California that offer graduate programs in psychology. Why did you decide on UC Berkeley?
So, uhm, I did my master’s in educational psychology and my plan when I went back, I went back to Trinidad and I was a teacher for a year, a teacher and a school counselor. I was an English teacher and the school counselor for a year and then the second year I was back in Trinidad, I was principal of what we would call a continuation high school in the United States. So, it was private, but the tuition is very low. These are kids who had been kicked out or flunked out of the regular school system, and so I was principal of that school. And I got very interested in the factors that pushed kids out of school, right? Why did kids not graduate? And so, I decided I wanted to do some research in that area between my undergraduate thesis, my master’s thesis, I’d discovered that I really loved enjoy doing research, and so I was going to go back and do educational psychology. My plan was to apply, go back to Canada and probably go back to Western and do my PhD. But my best friend from Trinidad, a secondary school in Trinidad, was at Berkeley, uhm, in the law school and he said to me, are you applying to Berkeley? I said I haven’t really thought about it, so he sent me the Berkeley catalog and I read through the catalog, and they had developmental psychology, but they also had school psychology where you got all of the research training, but you also got clinical training. And, at this point, I was still convinced that I would be living in Trinidad, and I was like, oh, this is something Trinidad doesn’t have and would benefit tremendously from. And so, I ended up only applying to school psychology programs. Again, within the United States, school psychology was not that big in Canada at the time and I, I did apply, applied to several schools. Uhm, uh, Berkeley I, Texas at Austin, Wisconsin Madison. I also applied to Stanford. It turns out they don’t have school psychology, but they never sent me their catalog. I tried, I phoned, I did everything I could. I never did get it. So, I applied to Stanford. They turned me down because I applied for a program they didn’t have, but I got into Berkeley, Wisconsin at Madison, and Texas at Austin. But I got a teaching assistantship at Berkeley, so that really made the decision because that was actually going to at least allow me to pay my rent every month. So, I got a teaching assistantship and so you know that, and the fact that I knew, I know somebody in the area ’cause my best friend was at the law school here so, uhm, that’s, that’s how I ended up at Berkeley.
Very serendipitous. All these stories are all you see the interconnection between two or more people.
Yeah, we have, you know, we have a talent development mega model that we’ve we that’s called, we have a, some colleagues and I have a talent development model. It’s one of the areas I study. We talk about the importance of chance but taking advantage of chance and so opportunities present themselves. And the question is, do you take advantage of that opportunity when it presents itself?
Right, right? I think of what’s that movie “Yes Man” saying, saying yes to almost any opportunity that comes your way.
Looking at your CV on the right screen here, and so I did notice a lot of that relationship and the time you spent at Saint Mary’s College, that secondary school in in Trinidad and am I pronouncing it right, Tobago?
Tobago, OK, and you served as a teacher there as well as a counselor and then you served other administrative roles there as well for a number of years. And so, we’re going to come back to that in a second. But I, I see like I said at the very beginning of our interview, a wide variety of experiences and, and before I go into that, what was the most important…? So, in summary, you went from your Master of Arts and then you went to Berkeley even though you applied to multiple schools, the reason you went to Berkeley was obviously you gotta pay, you gotta pay your rent and so that TAship definitely helped you. Were there other factors? If that was, you know, that’s number one given, but what other factors came into play when you were selecting a graduate psychology program?
Well, one of the nice things was that they all, uhm, all of them had people who were interested in schooling but, but the person who became my advisor at Berkeley actually studied dropouts. So, she was somebody. So, her, she had a research interest in dropout prevention and, and, and so forth so. So, she had written papers in that area and so that was, uh, you know, another thing that made it, you know, this is somebody who can support me in in, in, in, in pursuing this particular interest.
Definitely, definitely. And so. Here’s a time where I can ask you any advice for those seeking a graduate degree in psychology. Any specific advice for them? Especially, I know your areas are educational and school psychology, but generally speaking, those who are interested in psychology, any advice for them?
Right, yeah, I would say to take a broad look at the divisions of APA. So, for example, the work that I do here on, in dropout prevention, one of my colleagues, as I said, my advisor was doing she was a school psychologist, but there’s somebody in clinical psychology here doing that as well. Uhm, and so that take a look, a broad look at the what you want to do. Decide, do you want to do just basic research, you know what, what your interest is. Do you want to do, uhm, clinical work? Do you want to do a combination of both and, uhm, choose, look at the advisor. Sometimes we just look at the quality of the institution more broadly, but you want to look at the department. What, what support is going on in that department and what, what’s the advisor you personally are working with what, what are they doing? We encourage the students who are applying at Berkeley to speak to our students without us present so they can get a sense of what it’s like being a student here, you’re committing yourself for five years, so you are actually as much as the place is choosing you, you are also choosing a place where you can be comfortable where you can do a lot of work that’s difficult, hard, you know and stuff. So, you want to choose a place that is supportive and that, in fact, you’ll be comfortable in.
Yep, the other thing that I’ve heard throughout my interviews on the podcasts are, yes, find out more about the program, the school, the culture, and then talk to the students. Talk to the staff and the admins as well…
…because the admins know really what’s happening behind the scenes and they’re the ones who know.
Yes, yes. They do, yeah.
And the other thing that I’m just adding to some of the brainstorming and the advice that you gave. One other thing is to look at the areas of opportunity for funding. You, you mentioned TAship, fellowship.
Other scholarships. Working in labs. I know that more and more graduate, if you’re applying for Graduate School, they are looking for students who have some of that lab and actual research.
Right, as an undergraduate, you want to get some of that lab experience. Uhm, you know it’s, it’s interesting because one of the things that’s going away as a deciding factor more and more attitudes of the funding issue. I mean, Berkeley just made the decision, last year, so this academic year is the first one where every PhD student is getting five years of funding.
That’s, that’s the, that’s the flow that where we start. And so, and, and, and we didn’t get there. And there are many of other institutions that were there before us. And I think you know. And I think this is going to become much more common. But one of the things I’ve shared with the students because several of our students, now that they’re getting full funding, were like, well, why should I do a research, you know, be a research assistant or a teaching assistant, and there were two reasons. Yeah, one that in fact the funding for me is premised on at least some people working right, everybody doing nothing is not that we don’t have the funding for that. But the other thing is that in fact you are in training and that what you want to do is you’re building up skill sets. So, if you are never a research assistant or never a teaching assistant when you graduate, you’re going to be less competitive. You will know less than your peers, and you’ll be less competitive for postdoctoral positions, for academic positions, right? You really want to take the opportunity when you are getting supervised training in these areas, you know this is where you learn to do what you’ll be doing on your own. You’ll be running your own lab someday, so working in somebody’s lab and seeing how they do it and how you, you want to do it. And the things you want to follow and the things you don’t want to follow are important lessons on the journey.
That’s very good advice. The other thing that I’d, I’d add to that is not only becoming a TA or a TF or a research assistant in the lab, it also helps you to find somebody who’s actually doing work similar to yours and finding a great mentor. So just because you get that five-year funding and, and I should, I should speak to this ’cause when I went to grad school the max back then was three years and then it slowly went up to four and now that I’m talking to you, more and more schools are offering four to five years, which is actually very nice. Because doing your doctorate in less than three years, especially if you’re having a, if you have kids, family and you’re working outside is very, very difficult. So, getting that five-year funding is, is rare, but to your to your point, hopefully it becomes more of the norm.
Right and I would say so our student, our program used to be such that students used to be able to finish in four years. Now it’s not possible at all really, unless you come in already having a school psych credential and getting some things waived which and we have far fewer of those students. We often take students straight out of undergrad. But uhm, because the things you have to learn, right? Now, there’s a requirement of a full-time internship, right? There’s an advanced practicum, and before the advanced practicum, there’s a basic practicum. So, so there are a number of things that so it’s now not possible. Our students used to do their internships in years three and four. We used to split it. And now the students have to do a full-time internship in year five and so, you know, so trying to get through as much of their coursework and dissertation and stuff in the first four years before they hit the internship and so forth, yeah.
I should add one other thing for prospective students. If you’re undergrad and you’re considering going on to grad school and you’re not sure whether or not you want to, just go for your masters or your doctorate. Correct me if I’m wrong Dr. Worrell, but my sense is that there is more funding available if you apply to a doctorate program than a master’s program.
Yes, yeah. So, we are not funding our master students at this point at least, and certainly not fully funding them. The doctoral students, or PhD students in particular, are getting funded. Uhm, and the you know I’ve had a couple students who have not finished. We had. I had a student, I think at the end of the second year he came to me and, and he said, you know, I know you’re gonna be very disappointed, but I’ve decided this is not for me. I want to be a principal and stuff and, and, and I, I said why would I be disappointed in you? I’m glad that you recognized it at the end of second year, not at the end of the 4th year. So, he is now a, you know, he went, he went to an administrative credential program. He’s now a principle and, and happy as a clam.
But that in fact, it really is a you know, incumbent upon you, I think, to find what your passion is. But applying for a doctoral degree is going to give you much more funding than applying for a masters. The other thing I would say is that it’s important to remember that you may get your PhD in a particular field, but that does not limit, necessarily, limit your choices. So, there’s somebody who graduated just before I did who spent his entire academic career in social work in the social work department. He does work on, on violence and so forth. Uhm, I have such a. Two of my graduates are forensic psychologists. Well, just that’s the kind of work that they do. Their PhD is in school psychology, but you get a skill set, right? And there’s a graduate of our program, actually, who you know was a life coach, and he had a, he did a radio show. I mean he, you know he did, he put together this thing and you know that where he was serving the public, but really not doing clinical work or academic work, but interviews like this, interviewing people, writing columns and so forth and, and, and providing career advice to individuals. So, using the skill sets he’s gotten in a way that he enjoyed doing.
Yeah, and you brought up something that came to my mind as well. A lot of people think that hey, how do I determine if I should go the PsyD route or the PhD route and PhD means that I have to stay in the academic world. No, we’re breaking the barriers now. A PsyD can become a teacher and vice versa. Or you can go outside and do, you did a lot of consulting as well administrative work, you stayed in the academia throughout all of that as well, and so you can break the mold.
And, and don’t be brought down or, or bogged down I should say, by thinking oh PhD or PsyD. There are advantages because depending on what you know you want to do, each of those programs better prepare you for that.
Right, right? Ideally, as I said, if we do what we are supposed to do. Ideally if you came in here wanting to be a practitioner, but you change your mind as you graduate you don’t want to be researcher, you should be able to do that and vice versa. So, you so if you think that research is in your possible future, it’s not a bad idea to do the PhD where they stress the research. You don’t have to be a researcher when you finish, but if you decide to be researching, you’ve had the research training. Again, we’ve had people who’ve left here and gone to Facebook and other places because they use researchers as well and so forth. So that’s…sorry about that. There’s a, a siren, I’m right by the wall and the window.
Yeah, so uhm, so that in fact, again, you have skill sets that you can use in a variety of contexts. Another graduate of our program worked at ETS for a number of years, Educational Testing Service, so but think about the skills that you want, right? Not just the what the title of the degree is, but the skill sets that you want and things you might want to do in the future.
I’d noticed in your CV that you completed your postdoctoral work in clinical training at the Center for Educational Diagnosis and Remediation, or Cedar Clinic within the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. So, tell us a lot of our guests usually ask well, how do you find all these opportunities, especially for postdoctoral? Sometimes it’s set up for you and your school and your department help you, but I ask you, tell us about how you found that opportunity and tell us a little bit more about that experience.
Yeah, you know, again, serendipity. When I was finishing, I was an international student, which means that I actually could do one year of, of work and then leave the country if I, you know I could unless I got an academic position. So, I went on the market. I had decided as I was finishing, my PhD became very clear that if I intended to continue to do research, even to help Trinidad, that going back to Trinidad would not be helpful because they didn’t have the infrastructure. Uhm, and so, so I, I actually applied for academic positions. But one of the things I you know in interviews, you ask questions because it’s important in a health service, psychology, clinical counseling or school, to get licensed even if you’re not planning to do private practice full time or anything that are getting licensed is something that the American Psychological Association likes of it’s the fact you know accredited programs. And Penn State, where I went, actually had a clinic. Their counseling psych program used it, their school psychology program used it and the clinical psych program at the clinic as well. So, so I, as an assistant professor, so I was an assistant professor at Penn State. But because the head of the school psychology program at Penn State was the director of the clinic, a licensed psychologist and we saw clients, I was able to see clients in the context of my work as Assistant professor, which is not always possible. So, it was, it was a great way to get both, you know, me doing my academic work, but also be in the same place being able to do the clinical postdoc work to get licensed, you know, as I work towards licensure.
That’s great, I, that’s the first time I actually heard of somebody being able to do both at the same time, so.
Right and there are a number of places now that are having clinics, so now, you know, Penn State is not the only one that has its own clinic, actually the Penn State School site program has gone away. It’s been terminated, but you know its school psych programs are expensive, you know, doctoral learning programs, and so it’s, it’s no longer there, but it really. I mean there are few schools that do have these clinics. In fact, we have our, our clinical psychology program here at Berkeley, has a clinic and we, School Psych, our students actually do some training in that clinic. We have now made a partnership so that our students can do some work on campus in that clinic.
Well, it sounds like it. I know that you have a wide variety of experiences in academics as a teacher, instructor, researcher and all levels of professorship as well as I mentioned, clinical and consulting work. I read in your Vita and some of your other websites that you’re actually a teacher and a counselor, as I mentioned, at Saint Mary’s College. You also have served as a lecturer and visiting professor around the world in such places as Trinidad, Australia, China, Slovenia. Many people believe that you have to choose either the academic route or a non-academic path, but you’re breaking the mold and you’re, you, you were doing both actually at the same time for some time. So, tell me your thoughts on this. Whether or not somebody has to go the academic route or the non-academic route and then what have you learned from working in, and outside of, academia.
Right, yeah, I do think you can choose both and what’s interesting is that academia, a lot of people don’t realize that if they’re not familiar, I didn’t know about it till I became an academic myself, academia gives you the option of being both. There’s an expectation, there’s a recognition that you have expertise. That expertise is from something that may be useful, right? And so, at a place like UC Berkeley where we see ourselves as a global institution, not just you know, a national institution, but that part of their goal is for you as an academic to use your expertise beyond the institution. And so typically as an academic, you get about one day a week to do a variety of things, and so I’ve been a school psychologist, you know, done school psychology services for districts in Pennsylvania when I was at Penn State. I’ve done the work I worked with the Ministry of Education Tobago as I talked about, we’ve actually normed instruments for them so they can diagnose ADHD and, and, and conduct disorder and so on and so forth using Trinidad and Tobago norms rather than American norms. Uhm, and a lot of my research actually is cross cultural and cross national, and so because of that, so in China and Slovenia and Australia there are people who you know who have, I’ve worked with at Australia, you know, the person who I worked with there, he does talent development work in China and Slovenia. I’ve done work with my time. I do work on time perspective, and I have colleagues who do that work here. In fact, one of somebody I’ve coauthored with in China is currently here at Berkeley for this academic year as a visiting professor, you know with me, and I’ve been, I’ve been over there with him, and so we are designing our cross-national study where, you know, we’re going to be looking at students here and students in China. So, so, so there’s a lot of opportunities that are out there. As you said, don’t let the, the title or the sort constrain you. There are lots of possibilities for what you can do. And if you are at a research one institution, they are often fine. I mean, I dabble in music. I don’t have any degrees in music, but I’ve gone to Trinidad and been judging the, in the preliminary for the music Festival and Berkeley was fine to let me go. My classes were covered and so forth, you make the arrangements but, yeah.
That’s, that’s great. That’s exciting. I’m going to share my screen real quick for everybody. What I’m sharing is your profile page or your page at Berkeley School of Education. Very good information on some of your background and then I wanted to highlight a couple things that you already brought up. You, you highlighted some of your areas of expertise. One of them that I’m going to ask you about time perspective a little bit later on, but then you also mention scale development and validation. A lot of people just assume that when we take these. Go through some of these studies, fill out these forms or these scales that you can apply that to any other culture, even within the United States, and that isn’t necessarily the case because we have subcultures within the United States, let alone going over to Trinidad or Australia and doing some development on those scales over there. So, tell us what’s the most interesting thing that you found while you were teaching and/or working in these other places…Trinidad, Australia, China, Slovenia and any others that I didn’t even uncover.
Right. You know, I think one of the things and, and, and you know it’s not so much I uncovered, but I think I confirmed a belief I had and I hope it’s not confirmation bias, but, we are very, you know, although we differ in many ways, right, culturally and so forth, we are actually very similar in many ways. And so, for example, being hopeful about the future is a useful or adaptive trait that predicts resilience, whether it’s in Slovenia or in Australia or in Trinidad, right? That there are some constructs that are, if you want to call them that, are sort of almost universal constructs. Motivation, right? The importance of effort. And so, in certainly the education sphere or the works sphere more generally, right? If you think about, uhm, you know the Qatar right now with the soccer World Cup going on, right? All of these teams, I mean, they’re learning the same skill sets. They’re practicing hard teamwork, and those kinds of things and their skills matter and then and, and it’s the same set of skills, right? Even though they’re coming from very, very different cultural backgrounds, right? And the same thing occurs in in, in in academics and you know, we can think about the Olympics and those kinds of things. But, you know, getting a PhD in in in in Germany, I mean they have fewer courses and much more research centered, but at the end of the day, they’re trying to get you to the same set of skill sets so that you have the, you know, you can do research as an independent researcher. So, I think that’s a really important thing that I found. You know that being from China to, to South Pacific.
Well, it sounds like it and we’re getting more of that theme is we’re more alike than we are different, and that’s what’s kind of nice. It brings people together. I know that one thing that I, I remember reading about and then seeing your frankforapa.com, I actually liked that website. It’s still there, it’s still up and running. I don’t know. If you know, but it’s still there.
Yes, yes, it’s, it’s, so I know it’s there. I, I, I, I, I pay the, I pay the, the fee every month but. Yeah, I thought it was important that it stayed there while I was in the presidential cycle, so.
Yes, definitely you have a nice smile on there as well, and one of the things that you did say in that video is you have the ability to bring people in and collaborate from different departments. And what really connects people is sharing the similarities and bringing up the similarities between and among the different departments and or people if you were in negotiation like that. So one thing that I wanted to bring up and you kind of already brought it up is that you decided, hey, I wanted to go and apply for an academic position because if you could do that, you could stay in America, in the United States longer, so you already mentioned that you applied and you your first professorship was actually as an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. And then you remained at Penn State from 1994 to 2003 as an assistant and associate professor before going to UC Berkeley as an associate professor in cognition and development. What brought you back to UC Berkeley?
Uh, it was one of those interesting things. My, uhm, the UC Berkeley school psychology uhm the program is a little unique in the sense that most programs, most psychology programs use behavioral theory as they’re underpinning and, and, and the Berkeley program uses developmental psychology rather than behavioral psychology. And so, they had an opening coming up. They had this opening, and they were beating the bushes, encouraging because one of the things you may not know about academia is that universities, if they don’t have a successful search, sometimes the department can lose this position, right? It’s not guaranteed, so they like to get lots of applications, right? So, they, they were beating the bushes and, of course, they were looking for people who had, were interested in developmental psychology as a framework, and so many of us they, so many of us who had graduated from the program, applied right, so we were encouraged to apply really, whether we were thinking about going or not. And so, I actually did not necessarily see myself as competitive, right? I had just become an associate at Penn State and so, so I applied and then I became one of the, the finalists and so and, and so yeah, then I took it more seriously and, and, and ended up being the successful candidate. But, I mean, uhm, it was not in the cards. I had no, you know, I hadn’t planned to do this, to come back to Berkeley.
Well Dr. Worrell I, I you know correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see a website about Frank for you know your position at UC Berkeley, getting that position, but that would be kind of fun to see that hey you should, you should vote for me, you know and.
Right, right, right.
But you served in administrative roles and teaching research roles at UC Berkeley for over 20 years now, and you’re currently a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education where you serve as Director of the School Psychology program and Faculty Director of the Academic Development Program. And one final thing I should add here, you also served I think it just was last year you, you stopped your involvement with the or serving as Faculty Director of the California College Preparatory Academy. And you were there for about 13 years.
Actually, I’m still Faculty Director of California, right.
Oh, are you?
Yeah, I was going to step down and then I changed my mind.
I’m just going off of your CV, so.
Yeah, yeah, so I need to check. I think I may have put an end date on it, but that that that end date doesn’t apply anymore.
All right, you’ve already talked about your program a little bit more, but here is the question that I had dedicated for you for a couple minutes on, you know, tell us more about the School Psychology program at UC Berkeley and why students should consider attending that program if they are interested in psychology.
Right. uhm, I think you know we try to do a number of things and I, I, I, I, as I say, to students who apply and who asked me why should I come here rather than some somewhere else. I said I can’t tell you why you shouldn’t go somewhere else, I can tell you what we try to do here and what we try to do well. And I think there are a number of things I think we try to do well. We actually try to integrate science and practice uhm, uhm really well. So, we have, as core faculty, both researchers, you know, leading researchers in various fields, but we also have people who work part time in the schools. So, the person who is teaching the IQ testing you know the cognitive testing class. I’m not teaching it I, you know, I’m not doing any private practice. I’d have to do a lot of studying too, to give an IQ test, you know, I haven’t given one in a few years. You know ’cause? But the people who are teaching those classes are people who are using those skill sets every, every week. They are in the schools and so they work with us, you know, they’re PhD psychologists and so forth who have chosen practice, and so they’re teaching faculty. So, we have this teaching or clinical faculty and the research faculty. And so, you get the benefit of both of their, the, both groups and their years of experience.
As I said, we use developmental psychology as our base, which is relatively unique. I think there are few other programs that do that because it’s really important to understand, uhm, that you know the kindergartner the, the you know the intervention of the kindergarten is very different from the intervention with a high school student, but understanding and so, so one of the things you have to do in California is that students have to have, uhm, field placements within elementary school, in middle school and in high school so that they actually get to see the range of student functioning and then our students sometimes do work with adults as well, so you know, uhm, and so that the idea of this life span development is development of psychology. It’s Berkeley, so of course we, we, we take social justice, equity inclusion very, very seriously. It’s been a long, long been a concern and the strength of, of this academic institution, and that continues to be the case to the present day, and certainly an ecological perspective, right? So, the Bay Area you are near urban districts, low-income urban districts. But you’re also near wealthy suburban districts, so students get you know, and so diverse uhm, uhm, uhm, area to, to, to, to do their work in, uhm, and get experiences in. So I think those are some of the things that we, we, we try to do really well and students are doing clinical work or pseudo clinical work from the very first semester so they are in an elementary school in, in a year in, in the first semester of their first year doing primarily observation and so forth, but understanding the school as in ecology.
OK, I wanted to point out one thing. Even though I mentioned your title a number of times, I talked about Berkeley education and psychology and so I wanted to share my screen one more time. And here’s Berkeley, CA psychology and the graduate program, and then some of the graduate program information on the right side here. And then the separate one for school of education. And so, I just wanted to make that clear to our audience members.
Right so yeah. So, on my main appointment, school psychology is one of those things that can sit in either psychology departments or, or schools of education and same thing for counseling psychology and in counseling psychology and school psychology I think about 60% of their programs are in education schools as opposed to psychology departments, but we can be in either, and so that’s important to know. It’s always good to check out both schools if you’re interested in a graduate psychology program.
OK, well good. I’ll put these links up there as well when we go live, but I wanted to make that clear to everybody. So, as I mentioned in the intro, you are current, you’re currently the APA president, and for those of you who don’t know the, the, the role that they play well, I should stop before I go into that. Many people aren’t aware that when you run for one of these positions, especially the APA president, you become a President-Elect and then you become President and then you actually become Past President. So right now, you’re, you’re almost 2/3 the way through your, your commitment here so.
Oh, more than that, yeah, my, my, I become past president on January 1 so.
It’s coming up soon. It’s coming up soon.
Coming up soon.
Yep, now I should give a little background for those who are listening and/or watching the podcast, you’ve been active in at the APA for a long time. Serving as a member at large of the Board of Directors, I believe from 2016 to 2018, you served as President of the APA’s Division of School Psychology in 2007, and then on the APA Council of Representatives representing that division from 2010 to 2015. I believe now you’re a member of seven APA divisions. You have fellow status in five of those seven, and you have served on multiple APA committees, Boards and task forces. So not everyone wants to lead an organization like the APA, so tell me why did you want to run for APA president?
Again, it, it, it, it came about that it was, it was one of those things that I had not. If somebody had said to me 10 years ago, you’d be running for President, I would have said not on your life. And in fact, up to a couple years before I actually ran, people would say, are you running for president? And I say the 12th of never. And that’s a long time. You know, one of the things that happened is, uhm, my parents were very big into service and so, uhm, I you know it’s and, and then my advisor was very big into service. One of the things, in fact, we do here in the program at Berkeley is students, all students, have to serve on a committee. So, it could be the conference committee, the Admissions Committee. So again, the part of your training is that you actually contribute back to the community, right, that you are in. And so, I started serving on a couple committees of Division 16, the School Psychology division of APA, and then I was asked to run for President and, uh, I was like, well, and they’re like you never win the first time you run, you should run. Then I ran and I won. And I became president. And so, I served this President. And then when I was Past President, one of the duties you often have as Past President, I’ll have the duty for APA next year is to run the elections, right? So I was running elections for Council and we had a very distinguished psychologist who wanted to run for Council, which we thought was a great thing that you wanted to do, but you have to have two candidates on the ballot and so once I’m running the election and I’m trying to tell get people to run and they say who’s, who am I running against and I tell them they say no, no, no, no, no. I’m not running against this person, and so the deadline is coming up. And so, I said to the executive committee, I said you know what, I’m rotating off, so I’ll put myself down for the Council seat. I’ll run against him. I’ll be the sacrificial lamb. He will win. And, and, and things will be fine. And I voted for myself, and I won by one vote.
I won the election by one vote, so that’s how I ended up on Council. It was not planned. It was so funny. I actually had to do a red eye because I had scheduled to give a talk the night before Council began because I didn’t think I would be going to council. And so, so, I was on Council then I’m again on the division you see and, and one of the things we have been talking about while I was President and we continued was that school psychology was not that visible within APA. It was a small division many people don’t understand, clinical and counseling psychologists don’t understand what we do. You know, and so that it would be important for us to gain more visibility and one way to do that would be to run for higher offices, which included the Board of Directors. So, uhm, when at the last year of my Council term, I put my thing in the hat for, for, for the Board of Directors and it was really funny because I, a friend of mine was also running for position on the board and, and she asked me if I would help her put out some of her material campaign materials. And so, we put out her poster with, you know, summarizing her service, and a pen with her picture on those kinds of things. And, and then, she says to me, this is because Council was the one voting at the time and she says to me, OK, I’ll help you put out your material and I said, “I don’t have any.” She said, “what do you mean, you don’t have any?” I didn’t know you were supposed to campaign. So, she was “you’re not going to win.” I said, “well, I didn’t promise to win, I just promised to run.” But I actually, and I think my music played a role here, I was conducting the Council choir and I think so all of the Council knew me. You know, so you know. So, I, I ended up winning that and got became a Member At Large on the board. And so, I got to see then the board and the president running the meetings and so forth. And, and, again, seeing that there’s this is something that you know is within your purview. And so, as I ended my term, you know, the school psychology community and division in particular was like we should consider. You should consider running for President. I said I’ll give it some thought. So, I rotated off the board in 2018 and 2019. I you know, I agonized, and then I decided early 2020, I was going to do it. And that’s the I ran of course I’m running in COVID, right? And stuff, so I ordered. I have a box of about 1500 buttons at home because I started campaigning and then ordered the buttons and COVID came, and the box arrived, and I never got to go to any conferences to hand out my buttons.
While you’re, while you were telling us a little bit more about that, I already referred to your frankforapa.com website and it should be popping up on the screen. There’s that big, nice smile that I was talking about. I listened to this video like five or six times and one of the things that I really took from that video was that the APA and the APA President need to be inward and outward facing to continue the substantial transformational changes in the organization. And I, that stuck in my mind. And then, I, I looked at your about page and I, I laughed when you mentioned that you had the buttons. So here, if you scroll down, you’re going to look at a little bit of narrative here and here are your buttons.
Right, very lucky.
Yeah, there you go. You could download the buttons and a good summary of your career, your CV, your flyer as well, and then you obviously had some good endorsements as well.
Yes, yes. I was lucky.
So yeah, it, it must have been quite a thrill going through that to finally realize, Oh my gosh, this this could be real. This, you know, instead of thinking, oh I’ll be the scapegoat here I’ll go ahead and do that.
Well, I, I was lucky one of my former advisees has served as my co-campaign chair, and she had been president of her undergraduate institution, the student government, that undergraduate institution and so they forced me into doing things I wouldn’t normally do.
That’s good, though. That’s good. Get out of your comfort zone. That’s what you gotta do so you know, I, I, I, I hesitate to ask you this question but I, I some people don’t like looking back at their career or their you know their position is now ending and so I would say something along the lines as your Presidency comes to an end, at the end of, I think three weeks here or somewhere around there, uh, as it comes to an end, what are some thoughts on your experiences, your mission, your goals while serving as President of the APA.
You know I, you know, I think I, I can look back I think with a sense of pride. Uhm, I, as I made the point that you need to be inward and outward looking and so talk about inwardly. One of the things that I had wanted to do, you know we have APA, of course, that our Council has 170 something members and so on. They represent the full diversity of the United States. Not as diverse as the country is, but you know, there are representatives of most groups there and we also have the full sort of political spectrum from conservative to liberal or to progressive, depending, you know, super conservative to progressive or whatever. And, and sometimes we have been less than civil with each other. So, you know, as we, we you know have views that are very, very different. And so, one of my goals was that in fact, everybody’s voice would feel heard. Everybody would feel that their voice was heard at the council meetings, and I think I was able to accomplish that. I mean, it really something I guess for others to really answer, but I, but people did say to me that you know who was, you know who were not. You know when we had a vote and their, their, their side did not win the vote, you know? So, the, the motion that they supported didn’t pass or the motion that they did, did not support passed, they said that they, they, they felt their voices were heard…
…in the discussion and so and, and so we had, I think, really positive meetings. People left the meetings actually feeling positive about what happened, about the discussion, you know, and so forth. So, so, I think that that’s one thing that was useful. It was also, I think, useful looking outwardly. For example, one of the things I think it was after either the, maybe it was the Buffalo shooting, you know we’ve had so many mass shootings we have so many mass shootings in this country a year. Where I suggested, you know, we typically do these press releases, can we do something different? And we actually took out a full-page ad in the US news, uhm, with alongside eight other associations, the national association of social workers and national associations to psychologists, to say that we need to do something. That this is not just APA saying this. This is other professional association saying this. When, in fact, Congress passed the legislation earlier this year, the limited legislation on gun violence, we actually submitted comments and, in fact, we had 59 other associations actually signed on to the comments that we submitted so that this idea that in fact we are speaking with one voice as a community of people, mental health professionals, psychologists, other kinds of, you know, researchers and so forth. And I, and I think that that’s really important then, so both the outward looking and the inward looking I’m, I’m pretty proud of. We spoke out against anti-Semitism and the anti-Asian hate and, and, and so forth. We commented on, on, you know, Roe vs. Wade as we recognize as a religious issue for some, but it’s also a psychological issue that women who have, don’t have the right to choose actually are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, and we can bring sort of the scientific, the psychological science to bear on these issues and, and, and share that with the public so, so, so, so. In the role, you know, I don’t know what’s going to come at you, but when you, you need to respond when it does come and, and I think I’ve been able to do that, and the association has been able to do that, so I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m proud of the year we’ve had, and I’m, I’m glad I made the decision to serve at this time.
Well, it sounds like it. In one of the last comments that you did make in that video when you were running was “I believe that I have a reputation for consensus building, bringing disparate voices together in harmony not only in music but also on committees and task forces in Council and on the Board of Directors.” And so, it sounds like you were able to do that. For those of you who are interested in, uh, some of the stuff that you have accomplished as APA president, there are a number of different websites on the APA that talk about that, and I’ll get to one of those in a second here. But before I move and transition to that, is there anything that you wish you would have had more time to work on? A year goes by maybe at the time, it doesn’t seem like it goes by fast, but in retrospect a year is pretty short, you know, serving as President, and that’s that. That’s just been I, I brought up, I was curious, in preparation for this interview, you know, has it always been a year and I went to the former APA Presidents website on APA, and everyone is just a year, one year, one year, one year, and so. Is there anything else that you wish you had more time to work on?
Uhm, not really. I mean so I have two task forces that are not gonna quite complete their work this year, uhm, but they will complete their work next year. One of the one of them is on, on violence against trans women of color, so you know that one of the things that have been happening in our country, one group that’s been targeted a lot have been trans women of color and trans people more generally, but there have been, the murder rate has increased for trans women of color each year for the past decade plus. Uhm, and another one is on the use of, of psychological testing and race-based norms. And so, they’re both going through the process of reviewing the literature and, and to come up with recommendations and so forth. One of the things I think I said in that I think I said in that video, the APA Presidency I think often used to be about the President and I think for many people it was sort of the pinnacle of their career, right? And so, this is a way for them to do something big and splashy that they would want to do that, would you know, last for a while. And I think that that’s perfectly fine. I see the APA Presidency as, as more of a service role. We talk about, you know, the police service, the civil service, you know it’s up to protect and serve the teaching service, right? And that’s very much my orientation. And so that you are not just serving as APA President, but you are serving APA and serving psychology, and so that you are coming in in a tradition. So, in 2021 we passed an apology to people of color for APA’s role in perpetuating racism and discrimination. We also passed a resolution saying that psychology will work to end societal racism and discrimination and so. Those are big, big things that can’t, are not going to happen in a year or two or even in five. They require a consistent commitment over time, and so when I talked about inward facing, one of the things that, in fact, I’ve been we did this year is we passed the racial equity action plan. So, we had the apology last year. We then acted on that apology to come up with a plan, and then we got Council to pass it this year. And then we’re going to start working on it next year so that this work will continue past my time. So, it’s not just about your year as president, but I think what you have set the organization up to do into the future, and I think that’s the way I think, given the nature of the kinds of problems we’re dealing with climate change is one of the things APA is working on, systemic racism, I mean, you know mass shootings, all of these are huge societal concerns that are important to psychologists and society and that we are going to need to work on consistently over time for multiple years if we are to make a dent.
Very well said. I know that serving society is an obligation of the APA now more than in the past. Instead of focusing more inward and only the in group, only the people that are part of the APA get to benefit. No, now, now we’re helping society as a whole. You mentioned one thing and I know that at the end of this year, you will transition over to Thema Bryant as the next APA President.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. She pronounces it TAY-mah (/ˈteː.maː/) so yeah.
Thema, thank you, thank you, Thema Bryant. And so, tell us what your role is going to be next year as you become Past President and, and tell us you know what your day looks like as Past President of the APA.
Right, so one, you know, so you, hopefully my, the number of emails I get will go down. You have a number of duties, right? So, I you are still a member of the Board of Directors, so you attend all of the board meetings you’re expected to, to participate as a board member. You actually will also attend other meetings. You know the consolidated meetings of Council and all of those. One of the unique tasks that I will be picking up will be, uhm, the becoming chair of the elections committee. The Past President chairs the elections committee, and we have multiple elections across the year. The elections on board and committee members, sitting boards and committees. There’s elections for the Council representatives, there’s the presidential election, and so forth. So, there are a number of these elections that run across the year and as and I will be chairing that committee, which is made-up of past presidents and the sitting Past President chairs. Uhm, you know I will do many things I did this year, you know I did a lot of videos, for example our conference, you know the Middle East, Middle East Psychological Association Vincent had its conference virtually this year. I actually did a welcome for them, but I you know, I taped it. And so, a number of things by Zoom. I, I will be doing, you know, so many of those duties will pass to the President. Uhm, you know and, and, stuff, but it’s interesting because your Past President, yeah, sometimes can be as busy as your Presidential year because there are a number of people who had wanted me to come visit, but I couldn’t come and visit while I was president because I had too many things to do so they’ve asked me to come visit next year. When I’m Past President so, so, so, so you do spend some time sort of facing outward as well, even though you are not the sitting face, you know I will not be the one who will be doing the press releases anymore, for example, so that will fall to Dr. Bryant and so forth. So, so there are some things that fall off your plate and other things that come on.
Well, I know that you recently had some actions still serving as APA President, including awarding presidential citations to outstanding psychologists and more recently, appointing 6 new members of the Advocacy Coordinating Committee or ACC. So first, tell us a little bit more about these presidential citations. What are they and how do you decide to whom they should be awarded?
Right? So presidential citations are a way of saying thank you and recognizing the work that psychologists have done. You know people have done outstanding things, so you have and, and then the, the citation actually tells, says what the person has done. So, I think one of the first ones on the list is, uhm, a name that I, Tina, I’m not going to try to pronounce her last name here. Uhm, but she was teaching psychology in secondary schools and did a lot of work, you know, to in fact help the high school curricular working group come together. Christopher Beasley, who is another one, who’s the second one on that list, for example, he and the person after him, Jason Cantone, really pushed council to pass a resolution, removing the waters, you know, banning the box. So, we used to ask, “have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on the application. And so, what it does is then. So, for graduate students who were, let’s say, did something as an adolescent or young adult and you know, got convicted and something, then they get put into this different category and they have to then send in all of the stuff that they’ve done. And, and this really is our way, rather than bringing people in, it’s excluding people. They’ve paid for their crime. We don’t need. This is not helping us to know this information. And Christopher Beasley and Jason Cantone led the fight in, you know. So, you know in in doing that. So, interesting enough Jason, uhm, uhm, so I knew that Chris was doing this because he was trying to get the Council to pass it. So, I thought it was going to be a good idea, but Jason was the Council member who led the fight within council. So, I actually gave a citation to both of them.
Uhm, you know I am actually gonna be giving out some citations to people suggested many times early career psychology grad students don’t get these because you have got to done, and we’ve done substantial stuff, but we have grad students and, and, and early career people have done a lot of things and so I asked the career, early career psychologist and the committee in early career psychologists and the APA Graduate Student Committee to recommend some names to me, I’m going to be giving those citations out before the end of the month. Uhm, so it’s really the, the, the names can come from, from other individuals. The International Office recommended several people when we had the climate summit in Bogota, Colombia in July, June of this year. I gave out a number of citations to people who are doing, uhm, interesting work in different countries, so and since the psychologist who was present at the Filipino psychological associations really led the fight to support LGBTQ plus people in the Philippines. Uhm, same, I did a citation for somebody who did similar work in Albania, right I, I gave a citation to the President of the Ukrainian Psychological Society they’ve been dealing with, you know, supporting their citizens in the midst of a war that continues, for example. So, so, so you know so, so people make suggestions and so forth, and so you get them from a variety of sources, and some of them you know about yourself.
OK, well that’s good. That’s a good summary. I had never even considered and I, I, I remember going through grad school and reading about citations. And while I’m, while you’re researching it as a researcher, a citation is different than this citation, but in sense, in a sense they’re similar because you’re actually making a citation to make note of…
…this, you know, this work done by these individuals. The other thing that you did recently was the appointing of 6 new members of the Advocacy Coordinating Committee. So, tell us a little bit more about this ACC so we are aware of what, what is happening with this committee.
The Advocacy Coordinating Committee is a relatively new committee of APA and in fact it really is a committee of the APA Services, Inc.. So, when we think about APA, there are really 2 associations. You mentioned the contributions to society, right? APA is a 501C3 a tax organization that is supposed to be doing societal good. But we also, I suppose we, we also want to serve psychologists and psychologists, and so but 501C3’s are not Guild, so we are also our APA Services Inc.. Every member of APA, their dues get split is a member of both APA and APA Services Inc, which you’d see on the second line there, right? And, and, so, APA Services Inc. is our Guild Association which is [in] fact looking for the interests of psychologists, so trying to get higher reimbursement rates for, for practitioners. Getting funding for researchers you know, and so it does it, it lobbies Congress on those kinds of things. It can do that kind of thing. Uhm, and the Advocacy Coordinating Committee is our committee that leads the charge with our advocacy office in there. So, every other year, for instance, they do a survey of APA members. What are the things that you think psychology APA should be advocating about? And so, this year I believe the, the survey was done earlier this year. I think they got something like in the order of 12,000 responses.
That they then have to put together and, and say what are the common themes and you know, and which are the most common and, and, and, and, and, and, and come up with the advocacy priorities that in fact will inform the organization for the next two years. So that’s what that committee does, and you want, of course, that committee to be a diverse committee that’s representative of the breadth of not just psychology, but ethnicities and races and, and, and sexual orientations and in fact, all of the, the different bits that human beings are made-up of, right? All of the things that make us unique. Yeah, you want all of that to be represented on that committee.
So, Dr. Worrell, I have to ask you with all of your roles and responsibilities both at UC Berkeley and in the APA, describe what a typical day looks like for you and, and how will it change come January 2nd I think is a Monday so.
You know, a typical day looks like I mean I. Typically the one somewhere between one and four or five meetings of, of, of with APA different groups depending on the particular day. So, the Finance Committee of APA met on Friday and Saturday, for example, and the Treasurer, who is also a member of the Board of Directors, Chairs the Finance Committee, but the President, the Past President and the President-Elect attend the Finance Committee. So, I was at the Finance Committee on Thursday evening, all day, Friday, all day Saturday. But on days where I don’t have those day long meetings, I typically have, you know, like today is Monday, I’ve had, what, two APA meetings I think already today. Alright, tomorrow morning I have one at 8. I have one at 9 and I have one at one that’s APA, uhm, and then of course in between that I’m sort of, I’m scheduling my Berkeley work. I’m not teaching this year, so I have a teaching leave. I’m not on sabbatical, but I’m not teaching. So, like this morning I’ve I had a student’s oral examination or you know for two hours. So, and you know the thing that’s actually been getting the shortest shrift is writing. My coauthors are not, are not always happy with me this year, and last year. Hopefully I’ll have a bit more time next year, but that’s you know, that’s the thing that’s been doing the least amount of you know the, the getting our articles and chapters written.
Well, I’m going to share my screen again ’cause I know that even though you’ve been busy with the APA, it hasn’t slowed down your academic scholarship at all. If I share Google Scholar with everybody here, you should start blushing a little bit because in the year 2022 you’ve had over 24 or 26, uh, publications. And so, on Google Scholar look at all the 2022. And then we finally go down and we have to go to show more to finally get to some of the 2021 articles. But you mentioned a couple things gifted children, you’ve also talked about time studies, and you mentioned that before, so that’s something new to me. So, I’m showing my ignorance. Tell me a little bit more about what you mean when you say time studies?
Right, so there are a number of constructs that have really involved time, although we don’t think about it that way. So, one of the most common psychological constructs we know about fits into self-esteem, right? Do you have good self-esteem? Well, what is self-esteem? Your thoughts about yourself at the current time. So, it’s a really present oriented construct. Right? We also talk about, you know, sort of goal orientation. But what’s goal orientation it’s how I am in the present, thinking about where I want to be in the future. So really, there are a number of these constructs that are temporal or time constructs that we study. For my dissertation, I, I, you know, I, I, as I said, I came to study, uh dropouts. I looked at what were factors that would predict staying in school versus dropping out for kids who are at risk. And what my dissertation data showed was that students who had hope who believed that the future was going to work out were more likely to stay in school even though they were at risk, right? Because they thought that the future is going to work out. Now, interestingly enough, one of my colleagues who had written about dropouts a couple years earlier had described the students from underrepresented groups of state in schools as more politically naive about society. You know, and you know and stuff. And I argue that what she was calling naivete, I would call hope, optimism, or hopefulness because while yes, racism may exist, if you get the high school diploma, you’re more likely to get or go to college. You’re more likely to get a job that turns into a career and so forth, so it may be both, but it’s not only naivete, right? There’s a benefit for us. Uhm, and so one of them, so one of the things I study is hope more recently and I’m building on the work of, of Philip, Philip Zimbardo, the Stanford Prison studies. He actually published an article talking about how he introduced an instrument, the Zimbardo Time perspective inventory. But the important claim he made two very important claims in that article. One was that just because somebody is present oriented doesn’t mean they’re not future oriented. You need to measure them separately, right? And so, so you need to measure them separately, which means you need to measure all of them, and you need to look at the profiles. And so, we have an instrument called the Adolescent and Adult Time Inventory. And in that instrument, especially the time attitudes we measure, positive and negative attitudes towards the past, present and future. And we’ve used some statistical techniques, cluster analysis, latent profile analysis to show that there are adolescents and adults who have, who are optimists, who are pessimists, who are, you know, we call balanced, who are negatives they’re negative about all the three time periods. There are positives, right? ’cause they like, you know they, they, they just look at the world through a very positive lens. And our work has shown that those profiles predict behaviors and other attitudes, and so, for example, when we we’ve done some longitudinal work. If I am a positive, I’m 12 1/2 years old. We did our longitudinal study 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 years old, right? If I’m 12 1/2 years old and I stay in the positive category, I’m positive, I’m less likely to engage in problematic drinking. I’m less likely to pick up smoking. I’m less likely to engage in other problematic behaviors. Whereas if I move from a positive to a negative profile. I’m more likely to do those things. If I move from a negative to a positive profile, my behavior my, my maladaptive behavior is decreased.
So, so, so, there’s it’s a really important, here go the sirens, again, that’s what you get for being in an urban environment. My apologies again. But yeah, so it’s a really important construct. Interestingly enough. Our scale has now been translated into, I think about 14 languages, so we have shown these findings in New Zealand and in Slovenia, and we have data from China that we have not analyzed. We have data from Iran that we’ve, we have data from South Korea that, in fact, is showing these same patterns. The United Kingdom, Germany so, so, these as I talked about these universal constructs seems like there’s time attitudes are among these concepts. We have data from Nigeria and from Ethiopia, so it’s really interesting to be able to look at these things and see what is similar in these cultural contexts, but also what’s different.
One thing that I did find while I was doing some research on the time perspective is one thing that you did bring up already that Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory and, and he has a book out here that talks about this as well. So, thank you for explaining that a little bit more. I will add some more links of the ones that you provided. I wanted to bring everybody’s attention back to your, this wonderful page. I know you like seeing yourself right there, big and bold and smiling. But I’m going to Scroll down a little bit ’cause I have to give you some accolades here you have over three, what was it? 3000 oh I just.
Oh, I was going to say you should have just left it. You should have just said yeah 3000. No 300 articles or book chapters so far in your career. You were recently awarded the Distinguished Lecturer by the National Association of School Psychologists in 2022, and you also received the Scholar Book of the Year Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, or NAGC in 2019 and 2020. And down here there are two of them, so one of them is this one. “The Talent Development as a Framework for Gifted Education” and then the other one that received that award is right next to it and this is “The Psychology of High Performance: Developing Human Potential into Domain-Specific Talent” so that must have been pretty exciting to receive those awards back-to-back. You can say that Dr. Worrell…
…Back-to-back I received this, you know, this award. So, tell us tell us a little bit more about either one of these books and then we’ll move on.
Right, well, you know so. One of the things I think people you know gifted education sometimes gets a bad rap and you know and, and I think in large part because many times gifted education programs are not as diverse and often have individuals who are from affluent backgrounds and so forth. But it really has to do we think with opportunities, right? There is an achievement gap and, and stuff and one of the things we think gifted education can do, and public education is, is to in fact get more people from underrepresented backgrounds in. I, I, was lucky I’m lucky enough to have a number of wonderful collaborators and two of two of them, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius and Rena Subotnik are co-editors on both of those books, and we actually first started writing together back in 2009, I believe it was. Our first published article was in 2011 and it was introducing where we introduced the Talent Development Mega Model and basically what we wanted is we wanted the gifted education community to benefit from what we have learned in other domains, athletics. So, if we think about gifted education, the NBA National Basketball Association are gifted basketballers, NFL are gifted footballers, you know. So, we wanted to bring ,uhm, the scholarship from those, the lessons learned, into gifted ed. And so, we did that 2011 article, and that’s what led to those two books. So, the, the, the, the, the talent development book is written for practitioners, right? And so, we have things about working with rope. You know, in roles settings and working with children of poverty and so forth. Those are the kinds of chapters evaluating your gifted education programs so really aimed at people in the field who are doing gifted education work in schools and school districts. And then the, the, psychology of high performance was aimed more at researchers, right? We are talking about that this is in fact a particular area of psychology. How do you go from, you know, having a talent to becoming one of the top talents in the world? What other things are involved? And so, in that book we covered, I think four major areas we covered. I think the Performing Arts, we had dance, and dance and acting we have, we have, uh, the production, production arts. We have drawing and the culinary arts. We actually have the professions, medicine, software engineering. We have academics. We have psychology as a late starting domain and mathematics, which is an early starting domain. Students don’t typically encounter their first psychology class still in a high school and me and like me, maybe college. Right? But you encountered mathematics from preschool, right? And so, so, so, so, it was really to say, what are the commonalities here? You know the last chapter in the, in that book talks about what are some of the common threads that are in the literature and then what are some things that are more unique to some domains than to others.
Well, thank you for that summary. I did find that original article that appeared in Psychological Science in the Public Interest…
…uh, that actually I was in 2011 with your co-editors and it’s actually labeled, or the title is “Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science.” So, I’ll, I’ll put your CV a link to your CV on our website as well. I wanted to bring up one other thing here on this page right here, and this is the Cambridge Handbook of Applied School Psychology, and we mentioned school psychology and educational psychology. And at one point during our discussion, you said you know the clinical psychologists don’t really understand what we do on the school psychology side, so this was back in 2020. Tell us, kind of in your own words, how do we differentiate, you know, school psychology from clinical or applied psychology and that kind of leads me to kind of a follow-up question. Many students don’t even understand. Hey, how do I decide which field or branch of psychology I should go into? And I would say it’s almost the reverse you find yourself in that area or branch instead of seeking it out first.
So, tell me a little bit more about your thoughts on what is school psychology. Kind of high-level summary and, and how does that different, how does that differ from clinical or applied psychology?
Right. So, so, let me do a little bit of a distinction here. Uhm, we make some sort of we have sort of three sort of broad strands of psychology that we talk about. So, we talk about sort of, sort of basic research, right? So, we you know so, so that there are some domains like, you know that are they’re doing just bench research. They’re not the laboratory-based studies, they’re not doing real world stuff, they’re developing fundamental principles.
Then there’s applied research, right? So, you know, I, you know, I may be a developmental psychologist studying development, but I may be a developmental psychologist who is working within, you know, to, to help children, you know, make friends better. So, I’m applying that work in the real world. So, there’s applied psychology. And then there’s what we call health service psychology. And health service psychology really encompasses three major strands: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and school psychology.
Clinical psychology I think, is you know, uhm school psychologist is as old as it becomes, psychology typically focuses on psychopathology, right? So, depression, anxiety. All of these sort of major issues that, in fact, affect humans negatively in some sense. How do you in, treat those things make people better? So, psychotherapies [are] an integral part of, of, clinical psychology, but the focus. Counseling psychology is very similar. It sort of sits between clinical and school in that, but counseling psychology also added a focus on self-actualization. So how do you support individuals who may not have major concerns about, you know, some a major, major, depressive disorder or something like this or personality disorder. But then you know so, but they want to be their best selves, right? And so, so, you are helping them become better at what they do. In fact, a lot of counseling psychologists work in university counseling centers when students have mild crises or so forth or you know and, and, stuff. Or you know, you know I need better ways of studying and those kinds of things. School psychology is really tied to the K12 system so it’s a more context-specific psychology, but in that way, it actually is, is often much broader because if a child is having anxiety, math anxiety for example, that’s school psychologists. But if they’re having a reading problem, the academic problem that’s also school psychology, right? And if the teacher is having problems teaching this classroom, you know behavior management, that’s school psychology and the school climate. If there’s a poor school climate, so school psychologists are generalists. But really, I’m pulling from multiple domains, social psychology, developmental psychology, and so forth in the context of schooling to facilitate students learning, teachers teaching, right? We want to make the, the academic enterprise, the enterprise of schooling, learning, better, easier for teachers, for students, for parents, for administrators, and so that’s what school psychologists do. Now, that’s how I think they started off much more, much more disparate in some sense. But what happens is, as happens over time, there are many clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists who they’ve studied, they’ve done their degrees in that, but they’re interested in school-based practice, right? And similarly, there’s school psychologist who have gotten training in schools, but then who decide, I’m going to set up my shingle and do psychotherapy. All three of those major health, health service psychology, uhm, these sub disciplines get the same kinds of training, it’s where the, where’s the emphasis placed, right? So, clinical psychologists get more emphasis on psychopathology than the other two. Counseling psychologists get more emphasis on sort of self-actualization than the other two. School psychology get a much more emphasis on school-based practice than the other two. But you know and stuff but, but, they, they, can be doing interchangeable work.
So, your point about how students know where to choose is decide what you want to do and look and see who was doing that and the person was doing that. So, there are people who applied to work with me who also apply to developmental psychology programs, because much of my work on the time stuff is developmental, right? So, but they may, so they may apply to work with me as a, a, school psychologist, but they may apply to work with Dr. Umana-Taylor, a developmental psychologist at Harvard, or they may apply to work with somebody else at another place who’s a clinical psychologist who is doing similar kinds of work. So, uhm, you really choose the, you end up in a program that your advisor is involved in in some sense, but, but, that could be different programs. So, I do, I have an affiliate appointment in social and personality work, so some of the work I do on hope for example and, and, in cultural psychology is much more akin to work that’s done in social and personality psychology.
Well, thank you for that. I’m going to. I’m going to listen to this again because I liked how you laid that out for everybody. The differences between and among each of those disciplines. I appreciate that. Looking toward the future, Dr. Worrell, what other goals do you have for yourself inside and outside of academia within APA, within UC Berkeley, what other goals do you have?
You know that’s an interesting question sitting where I am right? So, as I said, I had no intention of running for APA President. So, I mean, you know, I hope to continue to serve. I mean, I don’t need to be President and stuff again, you know, but maybe I’ll be on task forces. At Berkeley, I’m sort of at the top of the, top of the ladder. I’m a Distinguished Professor. I hope to continue to be able to make contributions, I look forward to, uhm, to getting back to research and be able to spend more time doing research. I mentioned I have data from Iran that I have not looked at yet. I’m, you know it’s not a country, you get a lot of data, you know it’s you know we don’t have a good relationship with that as a country. But I had a postdoc from Iran a number of years ago before relations got as bad as they are now and, you know, we’ve collected some data and he’s waiting patiently I for me to get around to doing some more analysis and so forth. So really, as continuing to do the contributions. The interesting thing about being an academic is that there is always an unanswered question. There’s always something to look forward to, and even if you don’t think about it yourself, your students think about it. So, they come with questions that they want to ask building on your work or somebody else’s work and that they, they, want you to help them with. So, there’s always something to look forward to, which is one of the wonderful aspects of this job.
Well, you mentioned something, I was a teacher for a number of years and you’re exactly right, the students, you get more from the students and learn more from the students. That combined 20-30-40 people in the classroom bringing up things. You mentioned that you wanted to continue to work on some of these research items and the data that you haven’t even looked at yet. More of the recent ones that you’ve been focusing on over the last three, four, or five years, I, I sense from your Vita is the gifted, and so do you recall when you first started becoming interested in that and, and, where that interest started? ’cause I even I mentioned I showed your Google Scholar and even in 2022 your other two that you wrote that book with the other co-editors even put something out on giftedness and it’s actually the “Giftedness and Eminence: Clarifying the Relationship” which appeared in the Gifted and Talented International Journal and so.
Yeah, Gifted and Eminence, yeah.
Yeah, so tell us where you found, you know, how did you find interest and when did you find interest in the gifted?
Again, serendipity, so I’m an international student. I’m at Berkeley. I’m in my first year and around I think February or March, I started thinking, you know I have a, a teaching assistantship, but that ends when the semester ends, and I have four months of summer and I don’t have salary. And I’m not an American, so I can’t work off campus. So, I start asking friends and, you know, classmates, you know, you know about any jobs that are available and stuff and, and one of them said “you’re, you’re a teacher, right? You were a teacher?” and I said yes, they said, well, you know there’s this summer program called the Academic Talent Development Program. Actually, I, I don’t think it, I’m not sure it had the name yet. It may be the UC Berkeley Gifted Program at the time, we haven’t changed the name yet and, and, they’re always looking for teachers ’cause they have, you know, they bring these kids to campus in the summer and so I went and I spoke to the director and she interviewed me and I got offered a job as teaching advanced intro psychology to middle and high school students that can be taught in middle and high schools. And that event I saw over a couple years, and I made it an AP Advanced Placement psychology class and so forth. And I did that for quite so really, and so I did that for that for the summer. And then the following year, that program was looking for a research assistantship. My teaching assistantship was for one year. So that program was looking for a research assistant and I had taught for them, and they liked my work. I applied and I got it. So, I became the research assistant to the academic talent development program and that’s where that interest came from. And as I was doing my, my research work, I’m thinking you know here we have a group of students who, if they think they’re getting an A minus, come and ask for extra credit work, right? Whereas I am studying students who I’m trying to get them to work a little bit harder to turn a, uh, C into a B and they don’t want to do it, right? And what are the differences and, and, and, and, and similarities and, and, stuff so, so, it’s interesting. One of the things I actually have shown in a couple pieces is that at risk students like the students who were hopeful about their future who are at risk but hopeful about their future. The gifted students have that hope so that that hope is a promotive factor for the students who are not at risk, but it’s a protective factor for kids who are at risk. So therein is some, so I’m often used not as a control group, not as a control group, but as a comparison group, right? To see how are they things and then I got interested in, in how do we, how do these gifted students develop in their own right, right? So, what keeps them going?
And then you eventually, I’m sharing your Vita right now you see, and then eventually you turn that into becoming the Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program from 2004 to present. Oh, and here’s that one piece that you need to update, Dr. Worrell here…
You need to take that off.
Yes, yes, that 2021 should be to present that’s. That’s what it should be, I think, uhm, yeah.
Well, that’s good. And then you know the, the, the final thing that we do at the end of most of our podcasts is we ask a couple fun questions so I, I, know you’re, uh, thank you so much for your time and, and hanging in there. But I, I, gleaned so much from you, I appreciate it. I do have a couple fun questions for you though, so
Yeah, well thank you again, I’ve enjoyed it.
Good, good. One thing that I usually ask everybody is tell us something unique about yourself. Well, I could, I could probably answer about three or four of them for you, but.
Well, it’s so funny, right? Because the thing I had been the thing that you know I was thinking about was I, I mentioned it already that I actually conduct choirs. I, I know a number of people who are involved in music, but I don’t know any other psychologists who conduct. So, I, I think that that’s a little unique about myself. I, I guess I should also say I don’t know any other psychologists who are named after a major sports figure. If you, that’s why I use my middle initial, Frank C. Worrell, because if you Google Frank Worrell actually now I come up on the first page. But when I was early in my career, if you Google Frank Worrell, the name that came up was Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth the 2nd for his contribution to cricket. Uhm, he is supposedly related to me. My paternal grandfather immigrated to Trinidad from Barbados where Frank Worrell was born. But we never did meet. He, my paternal grandfather, died, so we never did. When he when my father was young, so we never did meet him and make any connections with the family in Barbados, but I’m supposed to be related. And he’s passed away, now you know. But he was the first black captain of the West Indies cricket team.
Wow, a lot of different links there. I, I, tried to find while you were talking, I found a website where there was a picture of you with the choir and I, I wonder if you were. I was wondering if you were directing or you’re part of the choir, but now you kind of elaborated on that for me.
Yeah, well I conduct yeah.
So good, good. One of the other questions that I usually ask and, and, think about this for a second. What is your favorite term, principle, or theory? And why?
You know my favorite theory has really been Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory, I think because for me, I think you know Erikson was a newer Freudian, so Freud had a psychosexual theory and Ericsson was one of the ones who said “naw, the psychosexual doesn’t work for me? I think that the work is psychosocial.” And if you read his, his books for example, I mean, as a theorist, I mean he’s well known, I think, for his contribution to the idea of the study of identity, right? And personal identity. But what many people don’t realize is he recognized the importance of cultural identities as well. He talked about, in some of his books, about the difficulty for, for, Native Americans and African Americans, in the context of discrimination and racism in America to develop a healthy sense of identity, right? So that that much of what we see as psychological is really psychosocial, right? So, my ability to hope, to have hope in the future is dependent on the messages that I, I, get from my teachers, from my parents, from the society I live in. What does it say about me as a person and my ability to contribute, right? And so, so, so, so Erik Erickson has sort of been my favorite and it’s really funny because I also love the name. My sister or my the oldest of us married somebody whose last name was Frank. His last name was Frank. I tried to get her to name one of her kids after me, you know, like Franklin Frank or something. She wouldn’t go for it.
That’s funny, that’s funny. I will add that ’cause I just found the Erikson, Erik Erikson on online for you as well so I’ll add that. And then one of the other questions that I ask is if you have the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
I’ll actually go on the trip, not the project. Uhm, I would really love to visit Antarctica. Or yeah, you know, you know it’s. I think I’m a closet anthropologist at heart and I think one of the best compliments I ever got from a colleague when he was introducing me as a, a, psychologist with one of the best anthropological eyes that he knows. And I think when you see the research. I do research in, in, in, in all of these different cultural contexts. I think the data actually satisfies my anthropological urge, but I really would love to see, uhm, you know, uhm, a part of the world where there are not a lot of whether know very few people or the people are down there just down there to research and so forth. So, so you know to see the wonder that makes up and I grew up in the Caribbean, so that’s actually the other. So going to a pole is like going to the other side of the earth, right, from warm to cold.
Not that I plan to stay there long because I don’t like cold that much, but.
It would be interesting to go there and, and, the other thing that I remember growing up is finding out that Greenland has more ice than Iceland.
And Iceland has more green.
Those are two places I like to go. One of my colleagues and mentors, actually, he’s now retired, I think he just recently came back from Iceland and, but he does, he has traveled, I mean, you know all over the world. It’s been really wonderful.
Frank, do you have any other advice for those interested in the field of psychology?
You know, I would say to, you know I, I would say read broadly. Think about when you and as you look at movies, as you read books, and so forth, how does it connect to the theories that you read too because I think the things that resonate with you, right? I mean so Phineas and Ferb. I don’t know if you, you, watch cartoons right, but I used to watch cartoons because in working with kids you want to be able to talk about what they’re talking about. Like Phineas and Ferb are gifted kids. Right, I mean, you know, I mean, you know. It, it, it, it sounds cliche to say it, but in a 1/2 an hour you know they do something miraculous like visit the moon or whatever. So on and so forth, right? Uhm, you know I grew up with the Tom Swift books, Tom Swift and also with the, you know, the five find out as well. We got British and American books. All of these kids who are talents that they were using in a variety of ways. You know Harry and Spife and someone can think about it right? But these are really children developing their talents so, so, so, so what are the things that resonate for you in psychology with the life that you’re leading with the things that are outside of psychology is a good way to think about where you want to put your, your interest. And, and, then once you’ve decided what that is, worry less about becoming a superstar and think about doing good work. If you do good work, the rest will follow.
Very good advice, very good advice.
Is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss on the podcast?
No, no, I, I, let’s, thank you very much for this delightful conversation. I’m glad it’s happening at the, near the end of my career. I was much more reticent when I actually was applying for my first academic job, one of my, uhm, a student who graduated from Berkeley a few years earlier, he’s several years ahead of me, had said he’d look at my statements and stuff before I send them out, and he wrote back to me and he said this stiff upper lip, you know, not, you’ve got to sell yourself. This is America. You’ve got to be willing…
Well, that’s good advice too.
…to sell yourself.
Right, right. Be yourself, sell yourself.
Yeah, and, and, that’s an important part. Tasteful self-promotion is part of our model. Our mega model of talent development.
Well, Frank, thanks again. You, you’ve been a delight. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you and learning more about your journey. Thanks again for being with us.
Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure on my part.