Attending and presenting my independent research at the Southeastern Psychological Association annual meeting in Atlanta was definitely a highlight of my senior year at Rollins. After a long process of conducting research, meeting deadlines, and submitting applications, I was ecstatic to hear that my hard work had paid off. While I was only able to attend a few of the poster sessions when I was there, I still saw a significant amount of current psychology research conducted by undergraduates, graduate students, and professors. I talked to many students from around the country and learned about their backgrounds in psychology, the research they were presenting, and their future plans for graduate schools and careers in psychology.
An aspect of the poster session which I found especially interesting was the diversity of topics being presented. These ranged from animal behavior to politics to music. It was also neat to see the complexity of research increase from undergraduate to graduate to post-graduate categories. For me, this emphasized the fact that psychology’s application is extremely widespread and there are many different career paths in psychology that I might be interested in outside of the most common few. While I am still unsure what I want to do in the future, this trip definitely helped me take a step in the right direction. I really enjoyed seeing what the city of Atlanta had to offer and intend to go back and visit soon.
The SEPA conference at Atlanta was an amazing experience for me and I would also say my classmates. Outside from the expected result of making connecting with undergraduate and graduate students from other colleges, I was able to develop closer bonds with Rollins students I barely knew before, and learn more about the research they are conducting. I was able to also meet and learn more about some of the Psychology teachers at Rollins that I have not had the pleasure of taking a class with, such as Dr. Houston. I truly benefiting from having lunch with the psychology teachers and sharing a conversation with them, since some will be part of the committee for my thesis, and it really helped to learn more about them as individuals outside of Rollins, and some of the topics they have researched in the past. As mentioned before, I was able to practice some of the skills I will definitely need if I am lucky enough to attend the conference again, but this time to present my own personal research. I had never been in a conference that is based on poster presentation, and it was a great professional and interpersonal experience that I would recommend to anyone that is fortunate enough to attend. I am extremely excited to share this experience with fellow students and teachers, and hopefully present my own research as a first author, something that would be a great accomplishment for something coming from abroad.
When presenting research at SEPA, there are a few particular interactions that stand out to me. While Dr. Queen, my co-peer mentor and I were a bit unsure as to how our poster presentation would be received, we ended up having a lot of interest in our poster! This was excellent because it gave us the opportunity to present many times to a diverse audience. One individual who we presented to was interested in our research because she had children in public school. Beyond the fact that this individual had a doctorate in psychology, she was interested in hearing our opinions on our research and the implications we believe our research has in everyday life. Our research suggested that having a growth mindset leads to increased college success. Similar results in past research have been shown across all levels of education. Therefore, when this conference attendee approached us and asked us our opinions, we were able to have an excellent discussion surrounding pertinent issues in the education sector in relation to our research. This conversation also required that I think on my feet and be able to apply my research, which is a valuable skill to have. I am beyond grateful for my experience at SEPA and for this specific experience. I look forward to presenting at future conferences and completing more research to continue to expand my knowledge.
Me at the Poster Presentation
I woke up early on Thursday morning, excited for the poster session that I was about to participate in. I was glad to be there, especially considering the hours it took to find the hotel the day before. It turns out that there are two Hyatt’s on Buckhead and the MARTA (a train which is a primary source of transportation in Atlanta) brought us to the wrong one. I sipped my coffee nervously as I always do before I participate in any form of public speaking. When it was almost time for the session to begin, a fellow Rollins student and I went into the presentation room and pinned up our posters in our reserved spots on a long row of blank boards. After a few people approached me and asked me about my research on adult coloring and stress reduction, my nerves disappeared. After about an hour and a half, the poster session was over and several of the Rollins psychology professors and students also presenting their research at the meeting went out to lunch at a famous diner within walking distance of the meeting hotel. It was great to talk with them outside of a school setting and discuss random topics and ideas. I was relieved and excited to explore Atlanta after a morning of attending poster sessions. After returning from lunch, a fellow Rollins student and I took an Uber into downtown and visited Centennial Olympic Park, the place where the 1996 Summer Olympics took place. We walked around and saw many historical monuments, college campuses, museums, restaurants, and even visited an underground mall. Overall, the day of the poster session was unforgettable and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given.
Going to SEPA was a truly amazing experience. Never before have I had the opportunity to present research I have completed, so I learned a great deal. As a peer mentor for Dr. Queen’s first-year RCC, I was fortunate to have the ability to complete research simultaneously with her and my co-peer mentor.
Because our class was an intro to psychology course, we ran an entire psychology study in order to provide an example to the students in the class. We based the study off of the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, and completed research about the way in which the growth versus fixed mindset influences college success. What we found is that students with growth mindsets have traits that are more beneficial to college success than students with fixed mindsets.
When Dr. Queen informed my co-peer mentor and I that we had the opportunity to present this research, I was very excited. At the same time, however, I was a bit nervous because I had never had the opportunity to present research to experts in the field. Nevertheless, presenting at the conference was a wonderful experience. All of the students, faculty, and researches present at the conference were very supportive and offered great feedback on our research. Additionally, I was able to learn about other current research in the field of psychology. Furthermore, I enjoyed being able to spend time with my professors and classmates out of the classroom setting. I would love to present research again in the future.
My co-peer mentor and I after our presentation in Atlanta
When I was told to participate in a research that would later be presented in the SEPA conference, I couldn’t help but ask, SEPA, what is SEPA? I agreed to Dr. Harris’s proposal, because of course I trusted his judgement that I could productively contribute, but also because I was once told that college is about taking risks and saying yes to new experiences. I am so glad that that day I took a leap of faith and said yes, because it was without any doubt one of the most amazing experiences I have had in college.
The morning we were presenting I couldn’t keep my nerves under control, I had never had a prior experience like that one and I did not know what to expect. As I stood in front of the poster that had my name as one of the author, I rehearsed in my mind the few things I had memorize in case I froze. A couple of young girls approached me and asked, “would you explain a little about this research?” I swallowed saliva, and started to talk, as I subtly looked at a few notes I had taken. Without even realizing the words began to flowed smoothly, one person after another, minute after minute, until it was time to start packing up.
I had a lot of interesting conversations with fellow students and teachers, who seemed genuinely interested not only on the poster I was presenting but about my own interests in psychology and future research I was interested in conducting. I even was asked to present research on another conference during April. I engaged in debates about politics, and climate change, personality factors and family dynamics, about Freud and Trump. I kept some email addresses and phone numbers from people I met and expressed interested in knowing about my future research on sibling dynamics, competition and perfectionism. In conclusion, this experience has served to motivate me even further to pursue a career that is linked to psychology and possibly public relations, since I truly enjoyed the interpersonal aspect of the conference.
I really enjoyed getting to travel to Atlanta for the SEPA Conference. I have never been to Atlanta before so it was fun to explore the city in addition to presenting our own research. As soon as Lexi and I arrived in Atlanta and settled into our hotel, we immediately got on the MARTA with other Rollins students who also were at the conference with us and went to Centennial Park. The park was beautiful because was surrounded by many skyscrapers and had several large fountains in the middle. It had a huge open space for people to walk, play, and sit. Across from the park there was the aquarium and the Coca-Cola Factory. We wanted to go to the Coke Factory, but unfortunately it was closed so continued to walk around the park and then went to dinner shortly after. We went to this restaurant near the hotel we stayed at called Cook Hall, where I got delicious duck tacos. After dinner, Lexi and I prepared for our poster session and then went to bed.
Friday morning was our poster session and it went really well; our project was called “The Growth Mindset and College Success” and based on research we did at Rollins. People at the conference came up and talked to us about our poster, which made the hour and fifteen minutes fly by.
With our poster at the conference
With Dr Queen and Lexi
(To celebrate being done with our first poster session at SEPA, Dr. Queen took us to lunch. After lunch Lexi and I met up with another Rollins student and went back to the Coke Factory and rode on the Ferris Wheel. My favorite part about the Coke Factory was getting to try all the different types of Coke they have in different countries. We all tried around 100 different flavors of Coke, some not as good as others, but we did it for the experience. I loved exploring in Atlanta and getting to see some of the city in addition to taking my research on the road.)
We arrived in Atlanta, Georgia on the afternoon on March 9th, just a day before we were supposed to present our poster on Friday morning from 10-11:15, at the Southeastern Psychological Association conference. On the morning of our poster session, Dr. Queen took Lexi and I to breakfast at a restaurant called Flying Biscuit. The restaurant was nice and was a good way to start off our day with some food in our systems before we presented. As this was my first psychology conference, I was a somewhat nervous to be presenting our research about the Growth Mindset and College Success to different people walking around. However, once our session started and I got used to speaking about our research, it was really fun to engage with different people about the work that we did. There were around twelve to fifteen people who came up and talked to us about our poster, which was a pretty good number considering that this conference was one of the smaller psychology conferences on the east coast. Some people who came up were fellow Rollins students and professors from the psychology department and others were either undergraduates or graduate students who were interested in what we did.
Overall, I think this was a good first psychology conference to go to because there were many different types of research and posters that others did. It was interesting to hear how they organized what they spoke about and see how they portrayed their research on their poster. Some of the presenters were less organized than others and some posters had more words than pictures or graphs on them, which made it difficult to read. I’m glad I gained the experience of speaking to other psychology students about our research and I also got the opportunity to learn about what research other students did.