PhD Student wins Pitt Graduate Student Government Award

Student Spotlight

Ashley Shafer, a PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology, received the 2020 Leadership and Service Award from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG). The award honors her work with “demonstrated innovation, boundary-breaking outreach, and dedication to the continuation of service.” 

Through GPSG, Shafer has facilitated conversations about graduate student mental health. In addition to her work with the university-wide GPSG, Shafer has also served on the Council of Graduate Students in Education (CGSE) since 2015. Shafer uses her current role as president of CGSE as a platform to meet student needs and lift student voices. 

Shafer mentored first- and second-year undergraduate students in the University of Pittsburgh First Experience in Research program. She mentors more undergraduate students researchers in the Supporting Early Education and Development Lab, which is part of the Office of Child Development overseen by Shannon Wanless.

Shafer says she is committed to continuously improving herself as a mentor. To sharpen her skills, she completed the Achievement in Pedagogy Badge and Mentoring Academy offered by the University Center for Teaching and Learning. 

“My passion for mentorship and advocacy is not limited to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Shafer.

Shafer advocates for increased investment in public kindergarten at Pittsburgh City Council meetings. She is active with community organizations like Beratung Advisors, Cuddles for Kids, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh. 

“To me, leadership means to continuously be in reflective community with those I am serving,” said Shafer.

Shafer worked in the Office of Child Development with Wanless to design the Student Fellows Program that launched in the fall. She will continue working with the Office of Child Development to review early childhood social justice research that will inform the office’s programming.

“I have found Ashley to be a conscientious and forward-thinking student leader and a hard worker. She takes seriously the opportunity to address student concerns and to act on their feedback and ideas for new programs, policies, and initiatives,” said Shederick McClendon, the Assistant Dean of Student Engagement at Pitt Education.

“I view leadership as an honor, as a way to provide support to others through the act of service. I am motivated by those who came before me, especially the trailblazing women who fought and persisted in the face of constant patriarchy and at times violence. Through leadership and service, I am able to contribute and give back, in honor of those trailblazers, and in service to those still fighting to be heard,” said Shafer.

Learn More

Visit the Office of Child Development website.

Pitt Education’s Applied Developmental Psychology programs are currently accepting applications. Apply here.