Wilson Leadership Research Award Winner (2004-05)
From left: Kay Wilson’s family, Joe Wilson IV (son), Joe Wilson (husband), and Kathleen Wilson (daughter); with winner of the first Kay Wilson Leadership Award, Kathryn Wallert (Fort Hays State University, KS) and Past-President Christopher Koch (George Fox University, OR).
Psi Chi is pleased to announce the 2004-05 Kay Wilson Leadership Award for Outstanding Chapter President. The first recipient of the award is Kathryn Wallert of Fort Hays State University (KS). The Psi Chi/Kay Wilson Leadership Award was established to honor Kay Wilson, Executive Officer of Psi Chi from 1991-2003. Under Kay's leadership, Psi Chi doubled its membership and increased its grants, awards, and national visibility. Kay not only demonstrated excellence in leadership but also realized the role Psi Chi plays in developing future leaders in psychology. This award is dedicated to her commitment for leadership.
The Psi Chi/Kay Wilson Leadership Award is presented annually to the one chapter president who demonstrates excellence in leadership of the local chapter. Such leadership should assist Psi Chi in achieving its purpose "to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology."
As the winning Psi Chi chapter president, Ms. Wallert received a cash award of $500 and travel expenses to attend the Psi Chi/APA National Convention in Washington, D.C. to receive an engraved plaque commemorating the award. Please see Ms. Wallert's personal statement below about her role as chapter president.
Kathryn Wallert, the first recipient of the Psi Chi/Kay Wilson Leadership Award for Chapter President, graduated from Fort Hays State University with a BS in psychology on May 14, 2005. She is the only one of her siblings to accomplish this goal. This fall, she will start graduate school at Fort Hays State University in the clinical psychology program and intends to complete a MA in May of 2007.
Since acceptance into the clinical program, Ms. Wallert has begun working on her master's thesis. The focus of her thesis is centered on graduate students' and non-traditional students' involvement, or lack thereof, in student organizations, specifically Psi Chi. She started thinking about this topic after attending the RMPA convention in April of this year.
Ms. Wallert says that she is at her best when she is in service to others. It brings her great joy. Thus, she would eventually like to work in the private sector as a psychologist. Ms. Wallert would like to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, such as those suffering from mental disorders. She would also like to promote awareness about mental illness. This is one way that she feels she can give back to the community where she lives. As Psi Chi president, Ms. Wallert was able to mentor young adults, leading to a desire to teach at the university level. She had the honor of teaching segments of classes for three different professors on campus and found it rewarding. She was invited back to teach again during summer in those classes.
Ms. Wallert believes staying mentally active is the best guard against boredom. She also believes that we are never too old to learn and never too old to share what we have learned. Ms. Wallert is excited about furthering her education and can't wait for the new adventure to begin!
My role as president of the Fort Hays State University chapter of Psi Chi was based on commitment, encouragement, excitement, and enthusiasm. Upon being elected in 2003, I committed to improving our relatively inactive chapter and knew there were other Psi Chi members who could help achieve that goal. I believe one should never ask someone to do something they aren't willing to do themselves. So, no matter what the job entailed, I was there to help. In order to generate excitement and enthusiasm, I became a "cheerleader," encouraging people to reach their potential and try new things like working on research and presenting at conventions. Because validation is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another person, as a leader I tried to recognize, both publicly and privately, each member for his or her contributions. Members need to feel that their ideas and opinions count. Thus, we would have open discussions in our meetings to give all members a voice. These were the times I liked best because I could see and feel the excitement of ideas flowing and I saw people who would normally not get involved begin to participate. Sometimes simply saying "What do you think" was all it would take to get the creative juices flowing.
When people place their trust and faith in you, then it is your responsibility to "give back" by doing the best job you can and by paving the way so they can do their best job. I once read we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. After being elected chapter president, I made a personal goal to educate myself on being the best leader I could be. I read books on leadership and attended workshops held at our university. I also became involved in other areas on campus in order to be a more well-rounded and informed person. By doing this I was also able to promote our chapter and open doors to new opportunities.
My two years as president have been the most rewarding time of my life. I have been accepted by all of the people I have come in contact with and that holds special meaning for me because I am a 56-year-old non-traditional student. The age gap between myself and my peers has never been an issue. Because of this, I wanted to give back to our chapter so I commissioned a local artist to create a mounted gavel that could be displayed in our department. The sculpted gavel is part smooth and part rough representing the experiences of our chapter the past two years. For the most part things went smoothly, with a few rough spots. By working together, we were able to overcome the rough times and this enabled us to see the beauty of our journey. I presented this gavel to the new president at the Psi Chi Banquet this year as a reminder of our accomplishments and a vision for the future.