The Honors Junior-Senior Project gave me the perfect opportunity to see what life as a graduate student is like. My thesis involved proposing a project, completing all the data collection, analyzing the data, and defending my analysis to a committee of professors in my department. Upon completion of my thesis, I was able to attend my first conference in New York City. I attended the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) at the Marriott Marquis in Time Square.
The lights in Time Square were even brighter than I imagined, but the most memorable part of my experience was having the opportunity to meet so many prominent people in my field. I could have not imagined a more perfect conference for me to attend. The president of EPA this year was Dr. Debra Zellnar, whom has dedicated her career to why we eat the things that we eat. Therefore, all the Presidential Invited Speakers and Symposiums revolved around eating and nutrition in relation to psychology.
I was recently accepted into M.S. and Ph.D programs to follow my dream of being an obesity researcher, exploring the connection between nutrition and psychology. As I flipped through the pages of the schedule of events that first day, I was ecstatic to see all the individuals working on topics that align precisely with my research interests. I also had the opportunity to meet many of these people, including the Dean of one of the schools that I was accepted to. Going to poster sessions and talks helped me to understand all the different theories about dieting and what will be most effective in helping Americans become healthier. The opportunity to meet and chat with the names that you read on research papers was an amazing feeling.
On the second day of the conference, I had the opportunity to present a poster on my own thesis. Though the work that I did for my honors project was not connected to my future research goals, it was a great opportunity to speak with other researchers in the field and think critically about alternative interpretations of my results. This experience helped me to learn and value the importance of conferences in pushing the field of research forward and sharing ideas. Symposiums and lectures always open for questions at the end and this gives colleagues the opportunity to challenge each other and share ideas.
Conferences will continue to be a big part of my research career and the opportunity to present right next to graduate students and professors as an equal was an enriching experience and helped me to understand how useful these events will be as I move forward as a graduate student. Completing an Honors Junior/Senior Project gave me opportunities that I never imagined possible and I feel working on my project and presenting my work have helped prepare me for graduate work in a way that very few other schools provide.
Stephanie Silveira, Psychology