Deborah Harris O’Brien, PhD
Trinity Washington University (DC)
In my biographical statement, I highlight my passion for increasing opportunities in psychology for ALL students. This zeal comes from my own student experience as a person from a low income, rural background as well as from years of teaching at universities that serve low income and first-generation students, minorities, and students with disabilities. Research has demonstrated that gaining access to mentors, networks, and role models are the most powerful factors for student success after graduation. In order to increase access for all members, Psi Chi must improve its financial status. With increased funding streams, Psi Chi will be able to offer more scholarships, grants, and awards. There are many students who don’t have the financial resources or who face other barriers to take advantage of networking at conferences, working in a research lab, or having a mentor. If we are truly committed to ensuring that the next generation of psychology trained professionals reflects our rich diversity, we need to help all students participate fully in activities that will advance their careers. I believe through forging partnerships with companies connected with psychology students and psychologists, and especially by tapping into the resource of our many Psi Chi alum, we would be able to increase not only funding for students and advisors, but connect with individuals and groups who could provide mentoring, internships, jobs, and professional development to our members.
Deborah Harris O’Brien, PhD is a founding advisor of the Psi Chi Chapter at Trinity Washington University (Washington, DC). She completed two terms as Psi Chi Vice-President (Eastern Region), chaired the Awards Committee, served as a member of the Eastern regional steering committee, and was the Psi Chi liaison to APA’s Board of Educational Affairs for four years. Dr. Harris O’Brien received her PhD in developmental/clinical child psychology from the Ohio State University. She has worked in private practice in Maryland with children, teens, and families, in addition to teaching and research.
Dr. Harris O’Brien has a long-term commitment to advancing the mission of Psi Chi. She has served as a faculty advisor at her institution since 1998; the chapter has won the Model Chapter Award a number of times. Trinity Washington University is a primarily minority serving institution and a historical women’s college, with a focus on social justice. Before coming to Trinity Washington, Dr. Harris O’Brien was a faculty member at Gallaudet University, the premier institution for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, where she conducted research on deaf children and taught psychology in sign language. Having spent her entire academic career teaching underserved students, and as a first-generation college student herself, Dr. Harris O’Brien’s passion is increasing access to opportunities in psychology for low income, minority, disabled, and other marginalized students.
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Christina Sinisi, PHD
Charleston Southern University (SC)
When I began as Psi Chi chapter advisor of my local chapter at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina in 1999, my only goal was to get the chapter active again. Twenty years later, I am still serving as advisor because the organization is a crucial part of who I am. I believe strongly in encouraging all students to excel in scholarship and service. To me, the heart of Psi Chi rests in its goal of encouraging academic excellence in all those who love psychology. If elected to serve as President, I am excited to serve the larger organization’s goals by setting up ways for our diverse members and chapters to interact and exchange ideas with others across regions in the United States and around the world, thus strengthening chapters. I am also eager to find ways to help students financially through scholarships and fund-raising. My work at the regional level included doubling student interaction opportunities at the Southeastern Psychological Association Convention as well as sponsoring a number of opportunities for chapter activities via social media. I hope to extend such opportunities on a larger scale and at APA and APS, as well as bringing Psi Chi international initiatives back to the regional conventions. I am honored to have been nominated for this position and truly hope to serve Psi Chi members everywhere.
Christina Sinisi received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hollins College in Virginia, where she became a Psi Chi member as a junior and served as her chapter’s vice-president. She then followed her husband to Kansas State University where she received her masters and PhD. From there, she taught at Georgia Southern University for two years before moving to Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. She became Psi Chi advisor in 1999. Since then, the chapter has won Academic Club of the Year on campus eleven times. The chapter has won Southeastern Chapter of the Year in 2003, 2008, and 2015. Her chapter has won the Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award in 2004 and again in 2010. Dr. Sinisi was the Southeastern Advisor of the Year in 2003 and 2009. In 2009, her campus honored her with the first ever Faculty Club Advisor of the Year Award. She has served on Psi Chi’s Southeastern Steering Committee, the Research Grants Committee, and the Psi Chi Leadership Committee. She has reviewed for the Psi Chi Research Journal for almost two decades. At the international level, she served as the chair for the Investment and the Awards Committees. She is married to Kyle Sinisi and has two children, Scott, a graduate student at Florida State University, and Lindsey, a senior in architecture at Clemson University.
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