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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2010

Psi Chi as Your Passport to Success
Alvin Y. Wang, PhD, The Burnett Honors College (FL)

Psi Chi is now an international honor society, but the passport I refer to in the title is not the document that permits you to travel to other countries. Rather, it is your gateway to even greater academic and scholastic opportunities.

Your induction into Psi Chi is recognition of exemplary achievement as a student scholar in psychology. Including your membership in Psi Chi on your resume and wearing Psi Chi’s graduation regalia are highly visible means of showcasing your success as a psychology student. However, I hope to convince you there are many more ways in which membership in Psi Chi can enhance your opportunities and that you will consider Psi Chi as more than just a resume builder or as a means for accumulating academic "bling” at commencement. Here is a list of some important ways in which Psi Chi membership can enhance your success and make you a psychology student of distinction:

  • Become an active member. In other words, attend events and take on a leadership role in your Psi Chi chapter. Consider becoming an officer or assume a leading role such as committee chair for your chapter’s activities such as fund-raising, guest speakers, socials, and philanthropic events. By taking a prominent role in your chapter, you will make yourself known to other students and faculty within your department. In so doing, you will be connecting with like-minded people who are good at the things they do. Th is can be a lot of fun and will provide you with the opportunity to develop your leadership skills.
  • Apply for Psi Chi awards and grants. Each year, Psi Chi sets aside over $300,000 to support its student and faculty members. Receiving an award or grant is one of the most important ways in which you can distinguish yourself when applying for jobs or graduate programs. Also, these funds can be used to support your travel to psychology conferences for presentations. Many times undergraduates remark that they do not apply for awards and grants because they think their chances of winning are so slim. However, while funding is competitive, a high proportion of submissions are successful. Don’t sell yourself short—instead, give yourself a chance by applying. Moreover, if you have completed research, why not publish your findings in the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research?I can’t think of a greater distinction for an undergraduate, especially if you are thinking about applying to a graduate program.
  • Looking for a faculty mentor or research advisor? Th en mention you are a Psi Chi member when introducing yourself to faculty. Approaching a faculty member to be a research assistant can be intimidating for some students. Here’s my advice. When you show up for office hours, bring along your resume and introduce yourself as a Psi Chi member. Your Psi Chi membership will immediately impress the faculty member and your resume will give you discussion topics. And remember, a firm handshake and good eye contact go along way in establishing your credibility with faculty (or anyone for that matter).
  • Membership in Psi Chi is for a lifetime and this serves as a reminder that we should all actively engage in lifelong learning. I hope your passion for psychology has nurtured your pursuit of academic excellence as well as a sustained passion for learning as a lifelong goal. With this in mind, it is important to note that Psi Chi provides many awards and grants to graduate students and faculty chapter advisors on an annual basis.

I hope you are convinced that Psi Chi membership is not just a reward, goal, or resume builder. Instead, view your Psi Chi membership as a passport to greater opportunities in psychology and life.

The writer T.H. White—the author of The Once and Future King—tells us that:

"The best thing . . . is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”

Dr. Alvin Wang is Dean of the Burnett Honors College and a professor of psychology at University of Central Florida (UCF). He received his PhD in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook (1980) and his BA from SUNY at Brockport. His research interests include the area of human memory, learning, and cognition. He has been at UCF since 1986 and served as an associate chair for the Department of Psychology (1992-95). Dr. Wang served as faculty advisor for the UCF Chapter of Psi Chi (1990-94), received the Florence Denmark National Faculty Advisor Award (1993), and served as the Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President (2000-04). He is currently a fellow of Division 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His interests include travel, fine cuisine, and reading.

Copyright 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology



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Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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