Community service and a commitment to mental health education have earned the West Virginia University Psi Chi Psychology Honorary the 2011-12 Psi Chi Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award. This award is presented annually to the one chapter, of the 1,100 chapters internationally, that best achieves Psi Chi’s goals.
“The West Virginia University Department of Psychology has developed a strong national reputation for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, and produces among the nation’s most successful psychology professionals,” said Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Jones.
“Because we attract many very talented and motivated students who are seeking the traditions of a land-grant university, a strong tradition for leadership and public service has emerged at WVU. I am very proud of the accomplishments of our students, and credit their hard work and the guidance and encouragement of the faculty for this truly outstanding recognition.”
Professor Daniel McNeil is the faculty adviser for the campus chapter. He has served in that capacity for 10 years.
“Psi Chi has been a part of student life at West Virginia University for over six decades,” McNeil said. “This award is testimony to the student members and leadership of the WVU Psi Chi chapter for establishing an infrastructure of scholarship and service over many years.”
The WVU Psi Chi was established in 1948 to enhance the undergraduate experience for psychology majors and minors. Psi Chi at WVU works in tandem with the Psychology Club, which is open to any student with an interest in psychology. Incorporating the Holding Every Life Precious campus suicide prevention and mental health awareness program, Psi Chi and the Psychology Club devote time to educational programs and service on campus and in the community.
Holding Every Life Precious reaches out to those contemplating suicide and those who wish to help spread awareness about mental health issues. It was formed five years ago when a group of students lost a friend to suicide.
“As a club, we find the stigma associated with mental illness unacceptable, and we want to reduce it in any way we can,” said Psi Chi President Grant Shulman. “There are times when people need professional help, beyond that of their loving friends and family, and they shouldn’t feel embarrassed to receive that assistance.”
Annual monthly membership meetings include presentations from faculty researchers and professionals in the field. In addition to meetings, Psi Chi offers several activities to members monthly including “Analyze This,” graduate student mentoring events, films and opportunities to volunteer at the Quinn Curtis Center. Psi Chi also participates in the annual Tri-State Psychology Conference, to be held at Concord University this year. This undergraduate conference provides students an opportunity to present honors theses and research.
“I would say that winning this award was one of the most memorable moments I have had since joining Psi Chi,” said club Vice President Christine Sikorski. “It was nice to finally be recognized for all of our hard work. In a way, it confirmed to me that we are on the right track and that WVU’s Psi Chi Chapter is a positive presence within the Morgantown community.”
Shulman acknowledges that the success of the chapter is due to the work of officers and members over many years.
“It wasn’t any of us alone,” he said. “In fact, it wasn’t even our current leadership alone. Everything our chapter has engaged in over the years is what brought us to this point. All of the past presidents, all of the past officers, all of the past chair memberswe all received this award.”
The current officers of WVU’s Psi Chi chapter are: President Grant Shulman, a senior from Morgantown, W.Va.; Vice President Christine Sikorski, a senior from Williamstown, W.Va.; Secretary Alexis Claassen, a junior from New Kensington, Pa.; and Treasurer Kayla Gionti.
Psi Chi is the international honor society for psychology. It was founded in 1929 for the purposes of encouraging, stimulating and maintaining excellence in scholarship, and advancing the science of psychology.
For more information about Psi Chi or the award, contact Daniel McNeil, professor of psychology at (304) 293-1712, or at Daniel.McNeil@mail.wvu.edu.
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