1997 Cousins National Chapter Award
How We Did It
A Narrative Account of the Activities
of the 1997 Cousins Award-Winning Chapter
Heidi Caffray, Chapter President
1997 Cousins Award Winner
Winning Chapter's Essay
Universitiy of Illinois at Chicago Psi Chi Chapter
CAPTION: The 1997 Cousins Award was presented to the University of Illinois at Chicago Chapter during the 1997 Psi Chi Miniconvention. From left: Karen E. Bergquist, 1995-96 chapter president; Heidi Caffray, 1996-97 chapter president; Dr. Linda Skitka, chapter advisor; Nicole Duenow, 1997-98 chapter president; and, Dr. Karen Jackson, Psi Chi's 1996-97 National President.
Effective programming is the area where our chapter truly shines. We have progressively developed more and more informational seminars, fundraising activities, and research/presentation opportunities, and have drawn the faculty and students together through Psi Chi events in a way that has created a communal atmosphere where none existed. Each semester we bring in speakers from outside the university or department, such as our social work and PsyD seminars to bring our students information direct from the source. "What is the difference between a PhD, a PsyD and an MSW degree?" is a question students ask incessantly. We answered it. Our philosophy was to present information and resources that we had sought out ourselves, such as career opportunities, graduate school concerns, getting involved in research in psychology, and who are the professors at UIC and how can I approach them?
We also create opportunities, such as the research competition and the "Matchmaker" meeting. The research competition is a forum for students to prepare for conference presentations by putting their work in a poster or verbal presentation format. Graduate and undergraduate divisions were established, and we designed the format to be as inclusive as possible, our reasoning being that the first time is the hardest, so why not do it in a less threatening environment? We provide a seminar on the "How To"s" by Dr. Linda Skitka a month before the event. The first annual competition included 18 presentations by our students, and we awarded $600 in prizes! This event was developed to encourage and stimulate participation by our students in regional and national conferences. Last year we increased our activity, and one of our students won a Psi Chi Regional Research Award at MPA.
The "Matchmaker" service is one of our finest accomplishments. Our organization sends out forms to all graduate students and faculty members at the beginning of each semester that ask if they would like to have an undergraduate student act as a research assistant for their project. We then advertise the meeting to undergraduate students who attend the meeting, fill out an application on their qualifications and interests, and hear project descriptions from faculty and grad students. Students are asked to contact the researchers on their own. We keep a project description book and a book of student applications in the office of our undergraduate advisor. In this way, students seeking projects have a resource, and professors who may have missed the meeting or suddenly find themselves needing an RA can find interested students. Our first meeting had 8 projects and 25 students. We have grown to include 13 projects and 50 applicants in one semester!
UIC traditionally has not been a powerhouse of student conference presentations. The UIC Psi Chi Chapter is working to change that (1) by providing a supportive, encouraging environment for students to get involved with psychology research and develop the skill and confidence necessary to put together a project of their own, and (2) by establishing a yearly forum to showcase the research they have done. We feel that the programming we offer will not only increase the number of conference presentations by UIC students, but also increase the number of successful UIC applicants to graduate schools in psychology.
The UIC Psi Chi officers became adept not only at raising our own funds for programming, but soliciting other sources as well. We have secured thousands of dollars in funds from the Student Activities Committee, the Department of Psychology, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Student Government, and other Psi Chi chapters. Our main funding need was to provide the resources to bring in a nationally renowned speaker to UIC. We were able to entice Dr. Phillip Zimbardo to agree to speak on "The Psychology of Evil," and we set about raising the funds. Our officers submitted a proposal to the funding committee, contacted 25 other chapters to ask their support, and contacted other university sources. We not only raised enough funds to bring Dr. Zimbardo, but also to host a reception and meeting for the other chapters in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin that have expressed an interest in attending.
The seminars, lectures, competitions, and events we have programmed serve another valuable purpose outside of providing information. Our group has become visible to the students, faculty, and administrators at UIC. Psi Chi is who students seek out when they want to know what"s going on in undergraduate psychology. Our efforts to bring in Dr. Zimbardo represent the next phase of this connection. We"ve begun to create a "community" in the psychology department, and we"d like to share that "community" with other universities in our area. We have invited 25 other Psi Chi chapters in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana to cosponsor and attend the lecture. The UIC Chapter of Psi Chi will be hosting a hospitality event for visiting Psi Chi members after Zimbardo"s lecture and hope to initiate other joint projects in the future.
Community service performed by our chapter has included the National Service Projects for the last three years, volunteering to work at the AIDS Walk, volunteering at MPA, and sponsoring a "Head Start" charity drive. We are particularly excited about the National Service Project for 1996-97 and have chosen to work with Genesis House, an outreach and rehabilitation center for prostitutes. Our committee chairperson has been working with the director to develop a program that will allow us to assist the project in ways that address the center"s most pressing needs. One of the major goals of this project is to establish a feeling of dignity for its residents, and the drives to collect appropriate clothing such as business attire and modest pajamas and nightwear for the residents are our planned projects to assist with this effort. We have also scheduled drives to collect furniture, food, and cleaning and household items for the center. We hope that this partnership will grow and offer our members an opportunity to assist Genesis House in other ways, such as volunteering hours at the center, babysitting, and providing a workshop seminar on how to dress and conduct yourself at a job interview.
Any organization that functions well requires member investment and involvement. Our group has asked its members to participate in three projects per semester, and we have had a very favorable response. Our general meetings provide an opportunity for members to select a project at their convenience, and committee chairpersons then follow up by coordinating all the details of each event. We utilize newsletters, personal telephone calls, classroom announcements, e-mail announcements, fliers, and campus newspaper ads to get the word out about our programming. We have also selected to invite nonmembers to be actively involved in our organization. Some students are very close to meeting the criteria for membership, others are not. We feel that inviting them to be involved with our group may give them skills, information, and the support they need to become a better student. It just may be that next semester their GPA will meet our requirements, and we will have a new, actively involved member eager to carry on.
In May, 1996, our group sponsored a hospitality suite during the MPA Convention at the Palmer House in Chicago. Dr. Laurence Grimm, a UIC professor, organizes a volunteer group each year to assist with the conference, and many of our members elect to participate in this program. We are currently examining ideas to develop an event in conjunction with MPA that will bring Psi Chi groups together with our chapter to discuss joint projects in our region.
University of Illinois at Chicago Chapter
1996-1997 Calendar of Psi Chi Events
- General membership meeting
- "Research Matchmaker" meeting
- "How to Get into Grad School"--Dr. Linda J. Skitka, speaker
- "What to Do With a BA in Psychology"--Gary Moore, Assistant Director for the Office of Career Services, speaker
- "MSW: Alternative to Clinical PhD"--Janice Hasegawa, Clinical Professor for the Jane Addams school of social work, speaker
- AIDS Walk Volunteers
- "PsyD"--Dr. Laurie Philip, Chicago School of Professional Psychology will speak about the ins and outs of applying to, getting into, and participating in PsyD programs
- General Membership Meeting
- Monthly Bake Sales
- "Meet the Professor"--New faculty member Dr. Andy Conway, speaker
- "Meet the Professor"--Dr. Bette Bottoms, speaker
- "Meet the Professor"--Dr. Leonard Newman, speaker
- "Industrial and Organizational Psychology"--Dr. Patrick Conely, speaker
- 2nd Annual UIC Psychology Research Competition
- National Service Project: Genesis House, outreach and rehabilitation center for prostitutes. Events include:
- Donate an Interview Outfit Drive
- Pajama Party: Center needs pajamas for residents
- Reverse Rummage Sale: collect furniture, household items, clothes, to donate
- Canned Food Drive
- Clean Up our Act Drive: Center needs cleaning supplies
- Dress for success workshop and job interview seminar
- "The Psychology of Evil"--UIC Psi Chi Chapter along with the UIC Department of Psychology, UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Urbana-Champaign Psi Chi Chapter, Cardinal Stritch Psi Chi Chapter, and Saint Xavier College Psi Chi Chapter host a lecture by the nationally renowned speaker, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University. Reception and Psi Chi gathering to follow.