REBECCA BAINER — General Assignments Reporter
Southern’s chapter of Psi-Chi, Psychology Honors Society, has received a model chapter award and is now working to receive a second award so they can ultimately apply for a regional award. Associate Professor and Psi-Chi Advisor, Katherine Marsland, said out of thousands of chapters internationally, Southern was one of only 34 who earned the award.
“It’s all about community building and raising expectations for students and helping them with professional development,” said Marsland. “So, it’s really an opportunity for students to explore the science of psychology, to learn more about psychology as a science and then also learn about leadership and develop themselves with an eye toward their own career.”
According to Southern’s website Psi-Chi was founded in 1929 as a national honor society in psychology for the purpose of encouraging, stimulating and maintain excellence in scholarship, and advancing the science of psychology. Marsland said members began planning for the model chapter award five years ago.
“We put together a strategic plan and part of that plan was that within, originally it was three years we would receive the model chapter award,” said Marsland. “It happened a couple years late but we still got there.”
Psi-Chi Vice President, Emily Hauck, said to receive the award the chapter had to complete one service project, attend a regional convention or conference and submit at least one application for a grant or award.
“We wanted to win the model chapter award and then win it twice in a row so we can qualify for the regional award,” said Hauck. “So, that’s kind of a big deal; it’s what we’re aiming for and we have such a big participation.”
Hauck said to win the regional chapter award would be a reward for all the hard work of Psi-Chi.
“I would absolutely love if we could get that regional chapter award,” said Hauck. “It’s
been something that every single president has been aiming for.”
Marsland said the chapter is in good shape to win the second model chapter award this year, allowing them to compete in the regional award next year. In order to keep both awards in reach, Marsland said one of the biggest challenges is transitioning from year to year.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the last few years is the importance of transferring leadership, so having elections for new officers early enough in the academic year so that you’ve got shadowing,” said Marsland. “Because otherwise you’re starting from scratch every year, you’re never moving forward.”
Marsland said she is exhilarated by the success of the club, and although there were difficulties at times she is proud of how far the chapter has come so far.
“They’ve worked so hard on it for so many years, they identified those critical challenges a few years ago and they put in a plan to address it,” said Marsland. “They just worked very diligently to make sure they dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s and it’s paying off because they’ve got a vibrant, healthy chapter here that’s benefiting the students.”
In addition to the academic benefits, Marsland said there is a social aspect to being involved in the chapter.
“I think that the sense of belonging to a group of people who share a passion about something, especially people who are commuters is very important,” said Marsland. “That sense of community and sense of belonging – I think it’s part of what characterizes the psychology department here and makes it a good place to be.”
Although there is a 3.0 GPA requirement and $60 membership fee, Marsland said she loves that the Psi-Chi chapter at Southern is considered an open chapter, meaning the meetings are open to anyone even if they aren’t members. Marsland said she feels this is good motivation for those who don’t meet the criteria yet.
“I think that just by affiliating with other people and talking about it and extending their learning outside of the classroom,” said Marsland, “it helps to enhance the educational experience.”
Marsland said membership has increased since she became advisor, but now the challenge is to get more people actively involved in the chapter. Hauck said last spring about 100 members were inducted which has been the average in recent years.
“It would be really great if we can get more inductees and get more people involved,” said Hauck. “Just because they’re inducted doesn’t necessarily mean they’re involved in the club. So, get more inductees but include that as far as participation in fundraisers and service projects.”
Hauck said Psi-Chi is beneficial for students and she has high hopes for the future of the chapter.
“You get so much out of the club,” said Hauck. “You get access to scholarships online, you get access to the archives and grants and awards and it’s really beneficial – especially if you’re applying to grad school. It’s something to put on your resume.”