On March 20th, a group of Covenant students departed for Jacksonville, Florida, to attend the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) annual meeting. The three-day conference consisted of the chance to present research for fellow undergraduates and professionals who were in attendance and networking opportunities for the students.
A number of students applied to present research from either independent study work or Dr. Yue’s research methods course last fall, resulting in 100% acceptance for Covenant College applicants this year.
Abigail Kern (‘20) was one of the students invited to present at the conference. “Going into it, I was terrified of presenting my research. But when it came down to it, I realized that I worked really hard on this project. It was my work and I became excited to share that with people. Professors and students were so kind and listened intently, and that definitely made me more confident in my work and that I want to do more research in the future.”
Covenant students were encouraged to attend paper sessions and symposiums that interested them during their time at the conference, but first-time attendees were also expected to fulfill breadth requirements in order to sample various branches of psychology.
Kayla Seufert (‘19) said, “The breadth requirement forced me to break out of my comfort zone of what I’m naturally drawn to in the field of psychology and provided me with the opportunity to hear about a variety of areas of current research which was pretty cool. One example was in the field of social/personality factors and I sat in on a paper session about whether or not Cards Against Humanity increases levels of prejudice. It was a really interesting topic and opened my eyes to how diverse the field of research spans across. Overall it was a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.”
A number of students, including Maddie Sparks (‘20), feel that SEPA should not be one-time experience. Sparks, who presented research in Jacksonville, FL this year, as well as Charleston, SC in 2018, shared her experience as a returning student. “Since this was my second time at SEPA, I was able to set better goals because I knew more of what to expect. I felt more confident about approaching psychologists and graduate students that I wanted to talk to since I knew that was a normal thing to do at SEPA. I specifically focused on learning more about what the path to graduate school looks like this time. SEPA offers lots of resources for undergraduates, so I was really able to take advantage of those this year,” said Sparks.
Caleb Myers (‘19) found that attending SEPA affirmed his desire to go into clinical psychology after graduation. “SEPA was definitely worth the time and energy that we had to put in for it. On the trip I feel like I've gotten closer to a lot of people, learned so much that I probably wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise, and even felt reassured in what I'd like to do for the future.”
The conference also allowed Covenant students to network with potential future employers in their areas of interest. Yolanda Melgarejo (‘20) hopes to pursue neuropsychology and was able to speak with experts in the field. “I went to the specific sessions that were on cognitive neuroscience so that I would be able to speak with professors and neuroscientists who were attending the talks. After one lecture, I spoke with a graduate student who directed me to her mentor, who was the head of a neuropsychology lab at Georgia State. She talked to me about graduate school and about her lab. She gave tips for applying to graduate school and spoke to what she was looking for in a student who applied to her lab, specifically. I was able to see that each program is unique and speaking with her taught me what types of questions I should ask when I’m reaching out to graduate school faculty in the coming year.”
Dr. Kevin Eames, chair of Covenant’s psychology department, has been granted the honor of being President of SEPA allowing him to have various responsibilities in the coming year, including the task of selecting speakers for the next annual meeting held in New Orleans, LA in the spring of 2020.