Assistant Professors of Psychology Jessica Leffers and Stephanie Mallinas remember the good times of psychological-thriller movie nights and tongue-in-cheek dream analysis sessions as undergraduate members of the national psychology honor society Psi Chi at their respective schools.
Leffers joined because her friends had, and Mallinas was always a sucker for an honor society. Both of their organizations left a lasting impression with events and activities geared toward networking in the profession. Enough to push them both to earn Ph.D.s.
When each of them joined Eckerd College in 2021 and heard the psychology discipline was eager to revive the society, it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.
In the spring of 2021, Psi Chi returned to Eckerd, after a three-year hiatus, and inducted its first class of 25 members. Sophomore through senior psychology majors and minors in the top 20% (with a minimum 3.0 grade point average) are eligible for membership. The national organization offers professional conferences, grants and other resources to active members.
As the fifth-largest major at Eckerd, with more than 140 students declared, psychology having its own honor society just makes sense, Leffers says.
Chapter President Anabelle Gannon says her family members in academia encouraged her to immediately join Psi Chi if her college was offering it, for the professional development and networking opportunities it provides.
“The core elements of Psi Chi are service, networking and fundraising to pay for the service and networking events,” says the senior psychology student from Chicago. “This year, we’re looking at possibly working with other clubs like the EC Feminists to bring events we had done on campus in the past.”
In the honor society’s first meeting, members decided to complete their service projects at Daystar Life Center, which provides food aid to community members in need, and the Refugee and Migrant Women’s Initiative that serves displaced women in the Tampa Bay area, Anabelle says.
For the spring, Psi Chi members will be invited to casual meetings to discuss career paths and more with local psychology alumni and practitioners in expanding fields such as art therapy and intuitive eating.
Plans to grow the organization beyond its 17 current members include opening most of the events and activities of Psi Chi to the whole campus, Anabelle says.
“It hasn’t been the most active chapter in the past,” she adds, “but we’re going to continue to build momentum so that we do get those opportunities to experience everything Psi Chi has to offer.”