PUC Psychology Students Attend and Present at The Western Psychological Association Conference

By Ally Romanes on June 11, 2024

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18 Pacific Union College students—alongside Damaris Perez, PUC chair of psychology and social work, and professors Tuwan Ussery White, Michael Jefferson, and Libna Arroyo—attended The Western Psychological Association’s (WPA) annual conference in San Francisco from April 24-28, benefitting from the opportunity to network with students, faculty, and researchers from other institutions.

Students spent their time meeting with professional psychologists and graduate school representatives and attending presentations on the latest research and advances in psychology. The diverse research presented at WPA allowed PUC students to explore various psychological topics, stimulate new ideas, and ultimately, remind them why they chose a career in psychology.

PUC psychology students Catherine Garcia and Dania Guerrero presented their research on levels of extraversion, cell phone usage, and the impact on mental health; later, they answered questions after their presentation.

With over a year of research work, Garcia and Guerrero’s study focused on college students and their usage of cell phones and depression. They found the PUC student body to be the main inspiration for this study. From their observations, they noticed several students on campus who were outgoing, friendly, talkative, and preferred to be in the moment tended to spend less time on their phones and appeared to struggle less with mental health issues. This information made them decide to see if individuals with high levels of extroversion will have less screen time. And if they do, will they have fewer feelings of loneliness and the fear of missing out, both of which could lead to symptoms of depression in others.

Guerrero found presenting at the conference exciting, eager to share their hard work and the fascinating data from their study. “It was fun talking to people whose curiosity sparked meaningful conversations about related research studies and fresh perspectives,” said Guerrero. “It was a rewarding experience that allowed me to appreciate what I've learned about psychological research.”

For Garcia, it was her favorite part of the conference to present their research in front of their PUC peers and other students and faculty from different universities. “It was an amazing experience to show off your research, learn from other current researchers, and network with graduate programs,” said Garcia. “I would highly recommend psychology majors to submit their research to WPA or even just attend!”

Perez, filled with pride, expressed her honor at witnessing her students' enthusiasm and research skills. “It’s truly a testament to their hard work and support of their professors,” she said. “It also reflects the commitment the department has to research and innovation.”

PUC students attended seminars and presentations on many areas. Through listening to and discovering intriguing topics, they realized how much more there is to learn and discover from psychology. For some students, this helped them narrow down what area of psychology they wanted to study as they pursue graduate school. For Garcia, the conference helped her decide to take counseling psychology.

“Each year, our students are appreciative of the opportunity to attend. Many are inspired to pursue graduate school, to pursue research, and to continue their journey in Psychology,” said Perez. “It is also a time to bond with our students outside the classroom and have a little fun in a different city. We enjoy each other’s company, but students also have the opportunity to connect with others in the field.”