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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2015

Reawakening a Psi Chi Chapter Through Leadership
and Dedication

Danielle Namour, Palm Beach Atlantic University (FL)

As I reflect back upon the journey of reawakening the Psi Chi Chapter at Palm Beach Atlantic University, FL (PBAU), I am encouraged by the progress made. This experience began in the Spring 2014 semester when I discovered the existence of Psi Chi and contacted a professor to see if this was something available through PBAU. I am passionate about the field of psychology and was hopeful to find a professional campus organization that honors both academic excellence and growth in the field of psychology. Thus, when I learned about Psi Chi already being on campus, I was thrilled because I saw the potential that the chapter could have in the academic lives of PBAU psychology students for personal growth and development on campus and within the community as well. After applying and receiving approval, I joined Psi Chi, volunteered to serve as chapter president, and jumped into rebuilding Psi Chi as an active and thriving chapter on campus.
Events to Regain Interest in Psi Chi
Throughout Summer 2014, I planned for the events that I felt would best stimulate professional development and support high academic standards within the PBAU Psychology Department. The first of these was to take part in Club Rush during the first week of school as an opportunity to bring awareness of the new chapter on campus. To do this, I was given a substantial e-mail list from the Psychology Department of individuals who had been Psi Chi members at PBAU at some point throughout the years. I contacted each of the individuals on the list to ask them to volunteer at the Psi Chi Club Rush table and get the word out about the chapter. Unfortunately, this first attempt to revive the chapter was rather discouraging when I discovered how outdated the list was. I received only one response from a fellow student who was willing to volunteer for an hour. Pressing on, however, I designed and printed brochures and pamphlets, which were distributed during Club Rush, thus giving me a new viable list of potential members. After Club Rush was complete, I emailed the individuals who had left their information on the sign-up sheet to encourage them to join Psi Chi online and also letting them know about upcoming plans for the new year.
The first official Psi Chi event that I organized was a special presentation by Rebecca Tilleson, Vice-President of Human Resources for Comcast®. She did a fantastic job speaking about “Getting the Interview and Getting the Raise” on October 10. In order to bring attention to Psi Chi, I opened up the event to the entire university by creating flyers, which were posted all across campus. I also spoke to each of my professors and asked them to promote the event during class. In addition, I sent a copy of the flyer to the school to be e-mailed out with their weekly newsletter to the entire student body.
Adding a Personal Touch
Another personal goal was to organize an actual induction ceremony for the new members. Thus, I wrote a personal letter with each invitation for all qualifying individuals, put it in an envelope, and tied it off with a bow. I hand-delivered each invitation or asked professors to personally hand them out in class. The letters included specific information about joining the chapter, with payment deadlines, so that I could effectively plan the induction ceremony.
Not only did I make myself available to answer any questions and to coordinate with the incoming inductees, but I also implemented the induction ceremony by determining room location, food, programs, and all the other minute details. Although I would not recommend tackling an induction ceremony without an officer team for additional help, I can attest to the fact that the task is doable. I am thankful for the support of Christine Fink, secretary for the School of Education and Behavioral Studies, Dr. David Compton, our chapter’s faculty advisor, and Dr. Gene Sale, dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Studies, who also helped in pulling together the first-ever official PBAU Psi Chi Induction Ceremony. With a turnout of approximately 50 people, the induction and candlelight ceremony was executed smoothly with great pomp and recognition for all. A photographer to chronicle the event, a cake and other refreshments, and most importantly supportive friends and family members of the inductees all added to the event.
This year, we welcomed 16 inductees to the PBAU Psi Chi Chapter on a campus of approximately 3,700 students! Since the induction ceremony took place last semester, I am even more encouraged to see the new interest of others to become chapter officers to help host future innovative professionally oriented events and activities. I am already in the process of planning an installation of officers for the following positions: vice-president, secretary, treasurer, chaplain, and historian. I am excited to have the support of both the psychology department leadership, as well as the individual students filling these positions. I see an amazing future for Psi Chi at PBAU.
Leadership and Legacy
It is interesting to consider why the chapter became relatively inactive in the past. Although I do not know exactly, my guess would be that students who are eligible to provide leadership to Psi Chi are generally very dedicated to their academic pursuits and participating in their field. For this reason, finding student leadership can sometimes be a challenge. However, if one person takes the lead, I have found that others will decide to get involved and a “snowball effect” creates momentum to accomplish the task.
Because this is my senior year at PBAU, I will not be here past this semester to personally sustain the chapter. In order to prevent my chapter from becoming inactive in the future, I am working diligently to install a strong and committed officer board of individuals from the group of new inductees. Several of those new officers are still juniors, so I plan to train them to carry on the torch of responsibility. I intend to create complete documentation on the induction ceremony and all the detailed steps necessary to host such an event. Additionally, we will be having another induction ceremony this spring to bring in further active chapter members, so I will be training the junior inductees on how to put that event together themselves. My final goals for this year are to work with my officers to develop specific events with guest speakers and to cast the vision for future activities as well. Having self-taught myself all of the events that occurred this year, I am hopeful that my training for the upcoming leaders of the chapter will prove beneficial for the long term.
Resources to Overcome Obstacles
I faced numerous obstacles due to being “short-staffed” including working with an outdated database of chapter members, organizing an induction ceremony, and building awareness for a “new” chapter by educating my fellow students. Reviving a chapter can be very difficult and self-defeating at times, and it can be easy to give up if you do not have the passion or drive to continue. In this situation, I have found that the solution is to reach out to leaders at your institution and ask them for help. Additionally, take advantage of the “Contact Us” option on the Psi Chi website to receive help and suggestions in making things happen.
As you develop your chapter and confront any difficulties, I would be more than happy to assist you and answer any questions. You can contact me at Danielle.Namour@colostate.edu


Danielle Namour will graduate from Palm Beach Atlantic University, FL, May 2015 with a BS in psychology. She has been accepted to Colorado State University for a Masters in Occupational Therapy beginning Fall 2015 and will then attain a PhD in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science from CSU. Her future plans are to open her own private clinic with an emphasis on targeting developmental delays in children. With a passion for helping others, she assisted in a physical education program at a school for children with autism where she helped host outdoor activities and engaged the children, along with a Cancer Fatigue Project where she worked with a cancer patient with different exercises to relieve the fatigue symptoms being experienced. She will be presenting a poster of that research project entitled “Cancer-Related Fatigue and the Benefits of Exercise” at the 2015 Association for Psychological Science Convention in New York, NY. During her years at PBAU, she organized the first-ever Autism Speaks U PBAU Club and also rebirthed the Psi Chi PBAU Chapter. As president of (a) Autism Speaks U PBAU, which aims to raise awareness and fund-raise for individuals with autism, (b) the Transfer Club, which has the goal of connecting incoming transfers, and (c) Psi Chi PBAU, Danielle is actively involved in making a difference in in her community through university organizations.

Copyright 2015 (Volume 19, 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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