I started my interview with Bryan Barker of Norfolk State University and with Kevin Lee of Virginia Union University with two goals in mind: to see if they had a good experience with the Psi Chi Chapter Challenge and to see if our proposed changes to it would inspire others to join next year. What I got out of our interview was a steadfast belief in our mission. You see, Psi Chi seeks to both recognize and promote excellence in psychology. And through our members, we do just that. Bryan and Kevin are shining examples of excellence in psychology. They are a part of what makes Psi Chi very special.
Both young men cited the act of giving back to be a major incentive for taking part in the Psi Chi Chapter Challenge. Both Kevin and Bryan joined as sophomores at their respective chapters. And, both rose to the position of chapter president. Bryan thought that the notoriety of an international honor society was “intriguing” and that Psi Chi really “broadened his scope of psychology” as a whole. When Kevin heard of Psi Chi from his faculty advisor, he did his own research and discovered all that Psi Chi has to offer, which in turn encouraged him to join.
Caption: Above, Bryan Barker from Norfolk State University.
Bryan went on to say that Psi Chi has engaged him with leadership opportunities, allowed him to “strengthen his research skills and public speaking,” and helped him to make connections at both his own university and at other schools.
Kevin said, “Psi Chi has actually furthered my passion for the major.” He now has a resolve and a respect for what psychology is and means. “Psi Chi has opened my eyes to the concrete purpose of psychology itself,” he said.
So, being a development director, I had to ask, “Why the Challenge? What motivated you to participate?” Each of their answers surprised me. Although both Kevin and Bryan said that Psi Chi merchandise and the tangible nature of the 10% back to the chapter served as good incentives, the “give back” aspect was very important. Bryan said he encouraged his chapter to make “whatever contributions we can do” to help out. “By Giving Back we can get back as well.”
Kevin echoed Bryan’s sentiment that giving back was very important for his chapter as well. They made their chapters’ participation in the Chapter Challenge a “friendly competition,” and they wanted to see what they could accomplish as a team. “We ended up having a lot of fun together!” Kevin added. “By showing our passion and the purpose of Psi Chi to those who support us, it was really easy for us to be involved in the end.”
The inspiring part of our interview for me came when both Kevin and Bryan said to me that their individual chapters were small, Bryan’s only had three members when he took the helm as president. But, both young men really looked at their role as a Psi Chi member, and further as a chapter president, as an opportunity to increase the relevance of Psi Chi at their schools and to grow their chapters.
“Asking for help, or fundraising, is not always fun; but we could make it fun,” said Kevin. His leadership skills were put to use in the Chapter Challenge because, in the beginning, it was mostly the e-board who took part. But Kevin, as well as Bryan, used motivation to encourage others to take part. “Even those who didn’t take part in the Chapter Challenge were still there to support. And that meant a lot,” Kevin added.
Bryan’s regular motivations to his chapter were meant to “relight the fire” of what fundraising for Psi Chi meant. “What we were doing was larger than just us,” Bryan went on to explain, it was more than just an incentive or a T-shirt, it was big. Kevin motivated his chapter by saying, “you really understand the work that it takes to be part of Psi Chi, so you should be inspired to give back.”
Both Kevin and Bryan summarized their interview by stating that all Psi Chi chapters that participate in the Chapter Challenge should be formally recognized somehow. I was impressed by their inclusive thoughts and was again reminded of the mission of Psi Chi: to recognize and promote excellence in the science and application of psychology.
These two members of Psi Chi certainly do just that: they lead, they motivate, they think of others, and they strive for academic excellence. The challenge of doing each of those things is great. But, these two young men went a step further and decided to give back. Bryan and Kevin helped me see the true meaning of the Give Back to Psi Chi campaign. Our members are what make Psi Chi truly special. By giving back, we can all help to support the educations and careers of each member worldwide. By giving back, we’re really paying it forward.
The Chapter Challenge is new and improved in 2019! It will run January 14–March 31. We look forward to your participation!
Bryan Barker and Kevin Lee, from Norfolk State University and Virginia Union University respectively, led top fundraising teams for the inaugural Chapter Challenge in 2018. Cynthia, the creator of the Chapter Challenge, learned from them what it truly means to give back. They all three sat for a phone conversation in August 2018.