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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2013

Psi Chi: A Journey,
Not a Destination

Maria Lavooy, Psi Chi President, Florida Institute of Technology

When I joined Psi Chi as an undergraduate, I never imagined that my educational journey would lead me to the Presidency of this dynamic organization. Yet, somehow, it all started with what I thought was a simple decision—join a renowned honor society because I was eligible.

This honor society played a role in my educational and professional life when I joined as an undergraduate. It continued to influence me in my graduate years as I met, studied, and researched with other Psi Chi members. At the institution where I held my first teaching position, I started a new chapter when one didn’t exist and served as a Psi Chi advisor until I left the university. When I moved to subsequent university positions, I had the opportunity to serve as chapter faculty advisor again. This led me to serve in the position of Southeastern Regional Vice-President which afforded me the much-needed experience, and confidence, to run for the position of President of Psi Chi. Even now I continue to learn and grow, as a professional and individual, through the function of my duties, experiences, and the people I meet in this position.

It is hard to believe that the concept for Psi Chi came from the minds of two young graduate students in 1927, whose idea garnered only modest support. Nonetheless, in September of 1929, Psi Chi was officially and formally established through the adoption of its Constitution. Now, this 84-year-old honor society, with over 600,000 members in over 1100 chapters around the world, has become the largest psychological association in the world, as well as the oldest surviving student organization in psychology.

While serving on the Board as a regional Vice President, I was part of a collaborative effort by board members and staff to develop initiatives and their implementation. It was decided that the next few years would see a focus on a handful of initiatives, including the further expansion of Psi Chi through internationalization. After all, it only seems fitting that Psi Chi, while founded in the United States, would eventually become the International Honor Society, given its founding at the Ninth International Congress of Psychology at Yale University. To this end, Psi Chi has met with great success. In only a few years, the organization has welcomed 13 chapters from territories and countries near and far including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the West Indies, Canada, Egypt, Guatemala, Ireland, Russia, and New Zealand, with many more in the process of applying.

Psi Chi has always served its members in ways important to students and advisors through its research and regional travel grants and awards, as well as recognition for outstanding achievements in learning and service. Most recently, we have added unrestricted travel grants to the many opportunities we afford our members. Our next goal is to be able to provide scholarships, which is still a work in progress. A fund has been established and, although we have a great deal of work ahead, we hope these scholarships will provide a lasting tribute to the discipline and society, through the contributions made by Psi Chi members.

Just as I could not imagine where my journey would lead me upon joining Psi Chi, so could our founding leaders never imagine that Psi Chi would grow into the large and influential organization it is, today. With a brand-new, state-of-the-art website, with chapters connecting through the Internet and social media, with projects uniting members and chapters from all over the globe, it is obvious that this organization has kept up with the changing times and will continue to do so. The aforementioned facts certainly help to explain our longevity, but without our members, advisors, and Central Office staff, this would not have been possible. Students, advisors, and alumni are what this organization is all about and while I have the chance, I want to say thank you. Thank you for all you do to support and contribute to the organization and the discipline. Thank you for all your hard work, the people you help, and the science you discover.

Your growth, the growth of Psi Chi, and the growth of our discipline are interconnected in ways you, too, might not have imagined when you first began your educational journey. I certainly could not. In the end, I believe that,
"even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our … compassion, observations, and hope.”
—Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Maria J. Lavooy earned an undergraduate degree in biopsychology and went on to earn an MA and PhD in psychology from Miami University, Ohio. Now in her 27th year of teaching, she serves as the chair of the Applied Psychology Program at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She became a member of Psi Chi as an undergraduate in 1978 and has served as a chapter advisor since beginning her teaching career. She was a 3-year member of Psi Chi’s Southeastern Regional steering committee and served Psi Chi in the position of Southeastern Regional Vice-President, planning Psi Chi events and awards for SEPA’s annual meetings. She also attends and contributes to numerous conferences and workshops on behalf of Psi Chi.

Copyright 2013 (Volume 18, Issue 1) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology



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.

Eye on Psi Chi is published quarterly:
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Summer (April)
Fall (September)
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