First Ever Psychology Week: Making History at UPRM

By: Paula A. Negrón & Karla M. Rodríguez

The Psychology Department celebrated its First Psychology Week, coordinated by Julio Cruz, ex president of the Association for Psychology Students and student at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and took place at the Anexo de Tarzan. The Week started Monday November 14th and ended Thursday November 17th.  The schedule for everyday began at 9:30AM with students giving presentations regarding their respective research projects and professors giving conferences about revolving around the field of psychology. The aforementioned events usually culminated by noon.

Here we have students listening to the Conference given by Bernadette Delgado at the Anexo de la Cafeteria, Salon Tarzan.

There was a table for every psychology-based student association at the University: The Association for Psychology Students (or AEPSIC, for its acronym in Spanish), Neuroscience Honor Society and Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. The first day was somewhat uneventful; there was not much attendance from neither students nor professors. However, the rest of the week was graced with the presence of a much bigger audience.

The whole week was possible thanks to Julio and a group of students that he handpicked himself from every association. “Everything started when I was the president of AEPSIC. Every other department had their thing, their week, and we didn’t, so I decided to do something.” Of course, every project has its downhill moments. According to Julio Cruz, there was little to no support from the professors. “A professor wanted me to cancel the whole week the same day it started because, according to her, students couldn’t run the week alone, but it was still a success.”

“I would love to see more support from the professors, obviously. I am certain that if they gave more attention to what was our first Psychology week, more students would’ve come to the events,” said Julio, who is graduating in May. Because of that, the planning for next year’s Psychology Week falls into the hands of someone else. “Maybe next time Graduate Schools from outside of Puerto Rico will come,” he added.

Here we have the table from AEPSIC where information, pictures and even candy was given to the students.

“There should be more support from the professors so the week looks more professional. And we should legitimize the invitation to the professors,” Rose Rodríguez, president of AEPSIC, expressed, in concurrence with Julio’s words. “Also, there should be opportunities for students to present their themes of interest even when they haven’t done any research work.” She added, emphasizing on the importance of getting both faculty and the student body involved in an activity that is not only important but beneficial to all parties involved.

At the end of the day, Julio was very proud about what he accomplished with his team, everything worked out as planned, and all the events were right on schedule, specially the last, grand event.

To culminate with the first ever Psychology Week, a graduate school fair was held in the Anexo de Tarzán Thursday, November 17th. Starting at 9AM, universities from all over the island arrived on campus to both recruit and inform the students of Colegio. Among the universities present we could find: University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, University of Puerto Rico, Law School, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, Ponce’s School of Medicine, Interamerican University at Aguadilla, Interamerican University at San Germán, Interamerican University at Río Piedras, Cambridge College, Hostos Faculty of Law at Mayagüez, Center for the Caribbean Studies, East University at Cabo Rojo, Pontifical Catholic University at Ponce and Turabo University. Despite the more psychology-based focus of the week, this last event targeted students from all majors. A diverse group of graduate school representatives, which included the aforementioned Law Schools, Med Schools and institutions with graduate programs that focused on anything from Economy, History, Social Work, Education, Business Administration, Art and Theology (among others) to Psychology itself, set up tables and handed out pamphlets and paraphernalia allusive to their respective institution.

The recruiters were all smiles and seemed to be trying hard to be very helpful to the students who approached their tables. They focused on a variety of things, from informing the students about the programs they offered, to talking about the perks of choosing their university. Some of the recruiters even showed a competitive edge as they tossed around comments about the other universities to make themselves look more appealing. In consequence, the institutions handed out gifts to the students which included pens, pencils, notepads and little satchels, all of which had a university’s emblem etched upon them.

Students were also handed a questionnaire sheet in which to input their name, postal and e-mail address, phone number, and the program they were interested in in order to receive more information about the universities that way.

“I thought this job fair was very helpful, because most of the time, job fairs that feature foreign universities are held on campus, but never ones that feature local ones. At least not is this big of a proportion. This job fair allowed me to learn about what programs are offered here on the island, and this will allow me to not only have more options in the future, but it will help me to know how to prepare better,” said Yerardene Soto, a psychology student who is also interested in pursuing a law degree. “I am glad that I am more informed now. It might make it easier to make a decision between continuing a career in psychology or choosing to attend Law School. Or maybe I will choose both now that I know I can do that!” She added with a laugh.

Larizza Hernández, a representative from the Social Sciences department, and the woman who, with help from students, planned the whole event also stuck around, helping students in whatever way she could. She stood by the door, greeting everybody with a smile, and eventually proceeded to hand out snacks and drinks to everyone present. From corn muffins, to juice boxes and bags of chips, the students seems to be pleased with the free food, and henceforth, continued to the arrive at lunch time. In the end, the activity was a success as a cheerful, chattering throng of students was seen leaving the premises with gifts, food and smiles on their faces.

“I just hope that next year’s Psychology Week can be a greater success than this one, and that with the help of the professors, more students will come and this might become a new tradition at the University,” Rose Rodríguez commented casually as the first ever Psychology Week came to an end.

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