Psi Chi Story: Kevin M. P. Woller, PhD
My Psi Chi journey started in May 2003 when I chartered the Rogers State University (RSU) chapter. Since that time, I have had many experiences that have shaped my love for the organization.
Some experiences have contributed to both my own well-being, and that of my students. Probably my favorite Community Service has been aptly named the “Special Day of Care.” This event partners with Safenet, which is Claremore’s abused women and children’s shelter. In cooperation with two local spas, we help provide a variety of free beauty services for the women, and a “day of fun” for the children. For many of the women, this is the first time they have ever had a manicure, massage, or facial, and for many of the kids it is their first time to have cotton candy or to play on a bouncy castle. What most people take for granted, these abused women and children see as one of the best days of their lives.
In our sixth year, there have been many stories that have touched my heart and that of our Psi Chi volunteers, including Sherrie Sherrick, Shana Butler, Michael McClellan, Meghan Steeber, Rubi Granados-Guadarrama, Shelby Mancell, and other non-Psi Chi volunteers like William Golden. This year, we served 12 women and their children, one of whom was an 11-year-old girl whose mother could not separate from her, for fear of her being taken away again.
While serving as security for the event, I overheard the reason why she had more than 12 inches of hair cut off, and why she “loved her new look.” You see, her father used to take her and her mother both by the hair, and used it as a means to pull them down and abuse them. By having her hair cut, which their abuser had not allowed, she both freed herself psychologically from her father, and realistically by taking away his favorite avenue of manipulation. Just a haircut; just a new life.
Other Psi Chi experiences have come in the form of mentoring students, like one of my more recent memories: perhaps my proudest moment as a professional was when the American Journal of Psychology published my article titled, “Psychological Reactance: Examination Across Age, Ethnicity, and Gender.” Little did I know I had an unintentional bias in the study, because my “Native American” population was made up in large part of subjects who had less than 10% heritage.
Fast forward to 2015 where my Psi Chi coadvisor Dr. Johnny Mark Kirk and a group of RSU Psi Chi Students including Cathy Eimer, Bethany Henley, and Catherine Burkhead, helped me to correct this error with a preliminary study on “Psychological Reactance in an American Indian Population,” which we presented at SWPA in Wichita, KS. Through careful revisions and some real persistence, this study was recently published in the Journal of Intercultural Disciplines. This represents the first publication for our students, and is a proud moment for our program and our university.
Caption: 2015 SWPA presentation with Bethany Henley, Cathy Eimer, Dr. Kevin M. P. Woller, and Catherine Burkhead
It is these experiences and many others like them that cement my belief that all students of psychology should strive to become members of Psi Chi. Apart from the personal benefits that come from service to the community and the academy, these are tangible and practical items that can enhance any vita or resumé, paving the road toward graduate school and employment.
Being part of a local chapter also serves to connect you with like-minded individuals who can become both lifelong friends and professional colleagues. Dr. Kirk, the fellow advisor that I mentioned earlier was actually the first RSU Psi Chi Vice-President, and moved from being my student, to my fellow Psi Chi advisor and faculty member, to his current position as Program Chair of the Graduate Degree in Addictions Counseling at Northeastern State University.
Lifelong membership means a life of opportunity and growth potential that I believe is an essential part of any education. That is why I would encourage everyone to consider giving back to Psi Chi through a financial gift or a service commitment such as being a mentor or advisor to our up and coming professionals. I can tell you, from my nearly 15 years of experience, that it has been the most satisfying and enriching part of my professional career.