Julie Sparks: A Meeting with Stefan in Vienna

In Vienna

As the title suggests, the class went on an Impact Hub Crawl from Prague to Vienna. While visiting the Vienna Hub, a local social entrepreneur spoke with us about his project—Refugees Code. This program addressed a significant need in the community; how do we employ refugees and how do we address the shortage of IT professionals?

Even though he had no experience in coding, Stefan was a grade school teacher, he used the Impact Hub community to launch a teaching program. The process is simple. Refugees in Austria that know English come to coding boot-camp hosted by Stefan and programming graduate students to walk through online CS50. CS50 is the introductory course offered to Harvard and Yale students that is published online for other educators or students to use. Once the students get through this boot-camp, there is a designated counselor to place them in a job. Stefan has received government and private funding to launch Refugees Code. It is still in its early stages but they just completed their first class of refugees.

Stefan was an inspiration—he saw issues in education and immigration and then worked to fix them. Leadership exChange’s class was so beneficial for me because of the people I met working in fields all over Eastern Europe. I was able to connect and observe how they interact with the business and social world to create and implement products.

Impact Hub in Vienna, Austria


Julie Sparks: Leadership exChange’s Impact Hub Crawl through Prague


Starting June 15th, I traveled fifteen hours to the beautiful city of Prague which is located in the Czech Republic. Since the Impact Hub Crawl was not a Rollins program, I was among students from all over the world and the only representative from Florida. The program specifically looked at social entrepreneurship in Prague and other Eastern European cities. They taught what makes effective leaders but also why there is a lack of it in a post-communist state. The class was interactive as we left Charles University, we traveled to museums, landmarks, and Impact Hubs. This included a tour of the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. Impact Hubs are co-working spaces that are common around the world and are focused on start-ups or social entrepreneurs. They work by building a network within the community to foster social trust and aid growing businesses and ideas. Orlando has recently opened several small co-working spaces but they lack the established networks that other cities are using. Through this program, I met entrepreneurs in Czech Republic and Austria. I also met Czech, Indian, Australian, and Colombian students. Classrooms discussions became more complex and interesting with the very different perspectives. I feel that I personally grew from interacting with these students on issues in our world and our communities. I gained perspectives that would have been impossible to see within the Orlando area.

Stephanie Spence: Presenting Research at the ACS Conference

During my visit to the American Chemical Society National Conference in San Francisco, I presented a poster of my research on the analysis of caffeine as a tracer of wastewater contamination. Presenting my research at a conference of this scale was a new and exciting experience for me. As I arrived at my scheduled session and hung my poster up, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of presenters and the scale of the conference as a whole.

During the session, I had the opportunity to talk and share my research with undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, and industry professionals from around the country. The depth of discussion varied with each person’s interest and background knowledge of the topic, but it was a pleasant experience to be able to talk about my research with other scientists. More experienced members of the field were very supportive and impressed with my research when I explained that I was an undergraduate and encouraged me to continue research.

I also had the opportunity to walk around the hall during the session and see other posters. It was beneficial for my own future research to see and hear graduate students or professors describe their work. Participation in this poster session has not only given me a great opportunity to be a presenter at a national conference, but it also gave me a better appreciation for scientific communication. I am grateful to have been able to participate in this conference and to be a part of the scientific community.

Stephanie Spence: The American Chemical Society Conference

From April 2nd to April 6th, I attended the American Chemical Society 253rd National Conference in San Francisco, CA. This was my first time attending a national scientific conference and my first time traveling for a conference. During my stay, I was able to do a little bit of sightseeing in San Francisco, but I spend majority of my time walking around the hotels and convention centers experiencing all that the conference had to offer. I went to a variety of talks throughout the session, given by industry professional, academic professors, undergraduate and students. Looking at the session topics, it was amazing to see the scale of the conference and all the areas where chemistry is applied.

One of the most memorable moments was attending the Kavli Foundation Lecture Series featured speaker Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna, one of the largest talks at the convention. I was also able to attend a workshop during the conference on finding a career to fit with personal strengths and goals. As an undergraduate, the workshop was very helpful for me to learn the differences between jobs in academia, industry and government, and helped me think about what I might like to do after graduate school. It was a great opportunity to be able to attend this conference as an undergraduate and hope to return in future years as I continue my education in chemistry.

Isabella Seddon: Overview of the SEPA Conference, plus Takeaways

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.


Cristina Perez Diaz: Reflections on the Southeastern Psychological Association Conference

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.

Lexi Tomkunas: Reflections on Southeastern Psychological Association Conference

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

Isabella Seddon: The Day of the Poster Session (Southeastern Psychological Association)

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.

Lexi Tomkunas: At the SEPA Conference (Southeastern Psychological Association)

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

Cristina Perez Diaz: At the SEPA (Southeastern Psychological Association) Conference

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.