Wilson Leadership Research Award Winner (2006-07)
Ashley Dawn Powell
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
My role as the chapter president of Psi Chi at Southeastern Oklahoma State University this past year was a very complex and enduring position. Over the past several years, Psi Chi has become nearly obsolete. With the help of Leah Somers (vice-president), I was able to revive the chapter by motivating our members to be active and involved in several charities. Together our chapter donated over 100 toys during the Christmas season to many children around our area through Toys for Tots. We also adopted a stretch of the highway (Adopt-a- Highway), collected old cell phones for the Crisis Center, and raised money for our chapter members who were in financial need. By getting our constitution filed, I was able to receive funding for our trip to the Oklahoma Psychological Society’s Research Conference where I won first place for my research project.
In my leadership role , one of my challenges was getting our members involved in local charities. It was not easy being the nagging caller and organizing everything (although I did enjoy it). The toughest role was when our advisor and mentor, Dr. Wayne Dixon, passed away from a sudden heart attack. Not only was I dealing with the loss of a very close friend, I had to remain strong for the rest of my organization. It was a mature role that I was forced to take on and a very difficult one. From counseling sessions to going through Dr. Dixon’s office in search of Psi Chi material, I had my plate full. In the past three months, I learned more about leadership than I ever have in my life. Not only did I experience an immense loss of an advisor, friend, and mentor, I had to guide our organization through this immense loss as well.
It was Dr. Dixon’s goal for all of us to be successful. By instilling that into each of us, we were motivated to put it toward the success of Psi Chi and our education. I feel he would be so proud of us now because Psi Chi has come so far from what it has been in the past. In the leadership role that I have been given as president of our chapter, I learned how to genuinely love and lead people. Many people fail to be great leaders because they do not genuinely love people. Patience, endurance, trust, commitment, and perseverance are all characteristics of love. I believe Dr. Dixon taught me how to love people and in return for my love for them, they will follow my leadership. He taught me how to be a successful leader and our accomplishments as a group reflect that.
My future plans consist of continuing to aid Psi Chi in its success at Southeastern by remaining president for this coming year. I do not want to see the organization fall apart because we worked hard to build it up to what it is now. I will begin the master’s program at Southeastern this fall (2007- 08). I will also work this summer on getting my research published in several journals, while beginning a job as a rehabilitation specialist. I plan to apply to a doctoral program in the near future. I believe my purpose in life is to help people, which is why I chose psychology as a career. My ultimate goal is to become a doctor, and I will not fall short of this goal. I am a determined and motivated person when it comes to my goals and aspirations.
As far as continuing my role as president for my chapter, I have many plans and goals for our organization. Along with continuing our contract with Adopt-a-Highway, I would love to see our organization begin a mentor program within the psychology department at our school. There are so many kids hungry to learn and earn a degree, yet they are without the guidance to succeed. I believe that if we can begin this mentoring program, we can make a difference statistically in the amount of dropouts at our school. Along with this mentoring program, I hope to continue our charity fundraising with Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, the Crisis Center, and Families Feeding Families. Our organization has plenty of opportunities to give back to our community. Another goal this year for our organization is for everyone to attend leadership conferences which will help unify us as a group. To ease my fear of our organization breaking up after I leave, I want to instill the same motivation in the members that Dr. Dixon instilled in me. I want to teach them the love, commitment, and endurance that I learned from him, so that the chapter will flourish and become even greater than it is now. I have high goals and expectation for myself and for my organization. This mentality is what will lead to our success, and I hope to pass it on to my future successors.