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Fourth Annual Mental Health Symposium Preview

The Fourth Annual Mental Health Symposium hosted by Psi Chi will be Friday, April 20 from 12 to 5 PM.  This free event welcomes students from MSP and other local psychology programs to gain experience in presenting posters and answering questions about their research.  Michelle Justice (PsyD 1), Psi Chi member and this year’s Chair of the Symposium, offers this insight into the importance of student research and how the Symposium comes together.

Michelle Justice
Michelle Justice (PsyD 1)

Describe the process of planning and organizing the Symposium.

Planning begins with the selection of a keynote speaker. This year, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Sara McClelland and her speech, Working Hard at Being Normal: Gender, Sexuality, and Intimacy in Palliative Care. Following that, we send out a call for proposals and wait for submissions.

This year is unique in that we will be having two panel presentations as well as two poster sessions, featuring students from the MSP, as well as other institutions. 

The planning process has been exponentially easier with the help of all of those that have been involved. Previous chairs have left generous notes concerning timelines and vendors that have been utilized in the past.

The Symposium continues to evolve as we learn more about the desires of our current students. As the Symposium is organized by Psi Chi, we try to keep students are involved as possible in the planning, construction, judging, and deconstruction of the event. 

What is the goal of the Symposium?

The goal of the symposium is to foster a feeling of community and scholarship among students concerning their academic research. This is a perfect opportunity for students to showcase the work on which they have spent many hours.

As MSP is a graduate institution, we look for any opportunity to provide our fellow students with support in their academic endeavors, including adding to their CV’s. 

How do you balance student life with the extra responsibility of being Chair?

Balance is a considerable challenge, especially as semesters begin and end. However, I have been quite lucky in that I continue to be greatly supported by the MSP community. I have an agenda that I follow closely outlining the various tasks that need to be completed as well as their respective timelines. I often create lists for myself, organized by deadline, that includes both the symposium and classroom assignments.  Above all, I prioritize time that I am not doing either, taking time for myself and my own balance. It is a challenge, but one that I welcome. 

How does student research enhance learning in and out of the classroom?

Research is often the first opportunity for individuals to explore a topic of personal interest. Traditionally, students are taught with a designated syllabus within a designated area of psychology. Research provides students the opportunity go beyond the typical curriculum, putting a personal touch to an individual’s educational experience.

In my experience, research was the catalyst that sparked my desire for further exploration in psychology. Outside of the classroom, students gain insight and knowledge into a topic of interest. Participating in research provides students with the opportunity to be an active participant in their field as opposed to a passive learner.  Within the classroom, research experience brings greater understanding to the many studies that have helped build the field of psychology.