One of the great benefits of serving as Psi Chi President is the chance to travel to several regional conventions. Psi Chi presidents have each served as regional vice-presidents, but by attending Psi Chi programming across the country, we get a better sense of the unique aspects of the regions. Over the past year, I had the opportunity to attend NEPA, SEPA, and WPA. I missed MPA for the first time in 22 years because it conflicted with WPA! I attended RMPA last year and hope to go to SWPA and EPA in the coming year. This message, my last as President, reflects what I have learned about Psi Chi members nationally and internationally.
When I walk into a room full of students and their posters representing psychological science, I experience two emotions. First, I’m excited. The great energy of the presenters fills the room. Second, I’m overwhelmed. I know how much work by the students and their faculty mentors goes into EACH poster, and when you multiply that work by the number of presentations, it is awe inspiring.
As many of you have experienced, even a well-designed and executed study can yield less than satisfactory results. However, as a faculty member and mentor, I know it is the process of the research, rather than the outcome that has the true educational value. Students and faculty learn from each step: the research conceptualization, the literature review, the design of the study, the collection of data, the analysis of the data, the write up of the discussion, and the design of the poster to communicate the project. One of the reasons that Psi Chi promotes psychological science is because we know the value of good critical thinkers to society.
Another helpful outcome associated with traveling to regional conventions is the chance to hear the ideas shared among Psi Chi chapters. I often refer to psychology as a discipline that relates to the head and the heart, and these elements are clearly shown in Psi Chi programming on campuses. For the head, Psi Chi chapters actively bring in speakers, participate in research conferences, and organize graduate school related events. For the heart, many chapters conduct one or more service projects. I am particularly impressed with the chapters that have annual long-term relationships with community organizations such as annual dinners with an assisted care center and those that fill immediate needs such as cancer walks for a faculty member.
Newer activities that I think are intriguing include an increased interest in networking. Several chapters now have social media officers, and chapters with proximity to one another are working on joint activities. The popular social media sites appear to include Facebook®, Instagram®, LinkedIn®, and Twitter®. Also, in a development that is happily appropriate to the field of psychology, many chapters have events associated with wellness. At WPA, I heard about a “Puppy Day” and a chapter that invited a speaker to discuss music therapy. Care toward others and self-care are important dimensions of psychology.
Finally, a word about the Society. You should be proud to be a Psi Chi member. Your membership reflects your hard work and initiative as a student. Psi Chi is a strong and ethical organization committed to aiding new members and all of our lifetime members. I too am proud to be a Psi Chi member, and I’ve been proud to serve as your President this past year. Thank you.