What's In It for Me?
Hosting the Hospitality Suite at the 50th Annual SEPA Conference
Conference: Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Convention Program (2004)
As an undergraduate studying in the field of psychology, opportunities can be numerous and overwhelming. Choosing which aspects to explore can be a confusing and frustrating task. When it comes to the myriad of conferences held each year, do you find yourself wondering, "What's in it for me?" In truth, there is quite a lot in it for you! Attending conferences provide undergraduate students with a world of possibilities outside of the classroom that can not be matched elsewhere. In fact, attending conferences can be priceless.
Here, some students share their experiences from the SEPA Golden Jubilee Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia March 2004:
"I was, at first, a little apprehensive about volunteering to assist with the hospitality suite at the SEPA conference. What would I say to Martha Zlokovich, (president of Psi Chi at the time), if she stopped by? With so many experienced professionals of the field in attendance, I was quite nervous."
"Despite my feelings, I refused to allow my fears to control my actions. This outlook paid off; the benefit I gained far outweighed any of my apprehensions. While assisting with the hospitality suite, I was able to make invaluable contacts with a wide variety of professionals. For example, I met and spoke with Drs. Martha Zlokovich, Alvin Wang (Psi Chi Southeastern Vice-President, and Slater Newman (Past National Psi Chi President). They provided me with valuable knowledge, contact resources, and additional information to distribute to my Psi Chi chapter."
"To make my experience even more exciting, Dr. James L. Pate (SEPA's historian at the time) recruited me for a special task. He requested that I assist him in taking photographs of the mixer for historical records. While completing this task, I met many more individuals and obtained valuable contacts in the field of psychology."
"On top of all this, I was able to become further acquainted with the members of my Psi Chi chapter while further exploring my future within psychology. I will definitely be involved with SEPA at the next conference (in Nashville, Tennessee)."
- Lisa Elliott
"Volunteering to help host the Psi Chi hospitality suite in March was a fantastic experience. With so many psychology professionals, professors and students from all aspects of the field, the ability to network and gain more knowledge was abundant. It was especially helpful to see what research other students were conducting and speak in depth with them about it."
"Additionally, meeting the National Psi Chi President, Dr. Martha Zlokovich, and some of the National Psi Chi Officers was a rare opportunity. During the time I was in the hospitality suite performing my hosting duties, Drs. Zlokovich, Alvin Wang, and Slater Newman all took time to speak with me about Psi Chi and the field of Psychology today."
"Volunteering to help host at the Conference also enabled me to meet more GSU psychology students, and strengthen relationships I had started to form. It's an experience I look forward to repeating."
- N. Anne Prianti
PURC 2005 Co-chair
"I really enjoyed attending the SEPA conference. I had a wonderful opportunity to meet some important individuals who have made tremendous contributions to SEPA as well as Psi Chi. I also felt honored to be able to shake the hands of some of the professors who spoke during the sessions offered. Reviewing the works by some of the students certainly inspired me to start researching my own topic. I will definitely be attending other conferences now that I know what they have to offer."
- Veronica Edwards
Psi Chi member
"When Dr. Alvin Wang, Psi Chi Southeastern Vice-President, emailed Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc (Georgia State University Psi Chi faculty advisor), he immediately sent the notice out to the Psi Chi officer email list. I had never been to a conference before, but it sounded like it would be an excellent opportunity to meet people from around the southeast who are in love with psychology as much as I am."
"I really did not know what to expect in hosting the hospitality suite. I knew that people would be stopping by to grab a snack and something to drink as they were moving from one event to another, but I certainly did not expect what I actually experienced. From the very onset, everyone I met seemed genuinely happy to see our chapter hosting the hospitality suite and attending the conference. I guess I had thought that because we were 'just undergraduates' that we would not be as openly welcomed into the world of a regional conference. Instead, what we found were professionals in the field who were willing and eager to share their knowledge and experience with us."
"Upon arriving at the hospitality suite, I was immediately introduced to the National Psi Chi President, Dr. Martha Zlokovich, who took the time to speak with me about the Georgia State University Psi Chi chapter. As I fulfilled my duties as a host, I had the opportunity to work with Drs. Alvin Wang and Michael Newlin in setting up the food for the suite. They were both very nice and readily shared with me invaluable information, answering all of my questions as we worked."
"Over the next few days, I was able to meet others from the Psi Chi National Office such as Paula Miller and Susan Iles, who both encouraged us to submit materials to Eye on Psi Chi. Furthermore, as a special gift, each of us who were hosting the suite received An Oral History of Psi Chi which all the officers and professionals we met autographed for us."
"Because SEPA was celebrating its 50th anniversary and Psi Chi its 75th birthday, there was to be a Golden Jubilee Reception that Friday evening. SEPA historian Dr. James L. Pate requested that I walk around and take pictures of people mingling during the reception. He explained that it would be a wonderful opportunity for me to meet people as I would have to get each of their names and record them as I took the pictures. I happily agreed and spent my last evening at SEPA steadily snapping pictures and meeting professionals and other students in the field of psychology. It was an amazing experience."
"All in all, I would not have traded the chance to attend SEPA for anything. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I joined SEPA as a student affiliate. The experience was such a positive one that I feel that I have been bitten by the 'psychology conference bug'. Since SEPA, I have attended several other conferences and plan to attend many more with my next step being to present my own research."
"Attending major conferences enable participants to meet like-minded individuals within the field, explore new research as it is presented, and learn a great deal about psychology outside of the textbooks as it happens in the real world everyday. If you have not yet gotten your feet wet in the world of psychology conferences, the one thing you will find that you will regret is the fact that you did not attend one sooner."
- H. Marissa Stone
Georgia State University Psi Chi Chapter President
Winter 2005 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 9, No. 2, p. 40), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2005, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.