Recent Cheyney University Keystone Graduates Make Impressions at Professional Conferences

August 4, 2014

Julienne Lewis, left,  and Patricia Bell, right.

Julienne Lewis, left, and Patricia Bell, right.

Patricia Bell and Julianne Lewis, May 2014 Cheyney University Keystone Honors Academy graduates, really made an impression at the June 19 Division 45 American Psychological Association (APA) Conference at the University of Oregon.  They were the only undergraduate students attending the event in Eugene, Oregon which was dominated by graduate students and renowned researchers.

Their paper, “Racial Identity and Sense of Belonging Among African-American Students  Attending a Historically Black College,” was the only one written by undergraduates to be accepted. After the presentation, Bell was very encouraged.  “People came up to us and said our presentation was fabulous and they thought it could be published. Julie is the statistician and I handled the research and theory aspect. It worked out perfectly.”

The meeting attracted the top psychologists in that category, and both Bell and Lewis were thrilled to meet the Plenary Speaker, William Cross, one of America's leading theorists and researchers on black identity development and author of the cross-racial identity scale which they used for their paper.
While the days were long - sessions began at 7 am and ran until 7 each evening - the pair made good use of their time, attending poster presentations and networking events. One highlight was meeting University of Michigan professor Robert Sellers whose research interests include ethnicity, racial and ethnic identity, personality and health, athletic participation, and personality.

Bell and Lewis’ paper fit the conference criteria for “state-of-the-art research related to the psychological aspects of individuals from all ethnic minority groups within the United States; the professional development of ethnic minority researchers (students and professionals); and greater networking and collaboration among researchers studying ethnic minority issues across various fields of psychology.”

APA is the world's largest association of psychologists, with nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members. The conference is the only one specifically devoted to research relevant to Division 45, the major representative body for psychologists who conduct research on ethnic minority concerns or who apply psychological knowledge and techniques to ethnic minority issues.

“The people there were a lot nicer than I thought they would be.  As the only undergraduates there, it was a little intimidating but a great experience,” noted Bell.  “Being a presenter gave us a look at the ‘other side’ of the field.”

This summer, Bell returned to the Philadelphia area to assist State Senator Vincent Hughes with the Inner City Capital Connections Seminar at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. While working as an intern in his Harrisburg office this past semester, she helped his staff plan the seminar.

Originally from Trevose, PA, Bell now lives near her grandmother in Richmond, VA, and is working as an intensive home counselor for Put Families First, helping people with behavioral changes. “I always wanted to help people by working in their communities,” admitted Bell, valedictorian for the CU class of 2014.  “For now, I want to work for a little while and eventually get a Ph. D. This job is on that path.”

As for fellow CU Keystone Academy alumna Julianne Lewis, she is travelling to the West Coast for the second time this summer to attend the August 14 conference hosted by SSSP, The Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Sociological Association (ASA) in San Francisco.

While there, she will serve on CU Professor Kathleen Asbury‘s panel discussion hosted by SSSP, and present her paper entitled  “Does Gender Matter? Students at a Historically Black College.”  The SSSP conference promotes research and serious examination of problems of social life and works to solve these problems and to develop informed social policy.

Lewis was selected as one of this year’s ASA Honors Program participants, and will be presenting her research paper entitled “College students’ desire for money and professional success and students’ subjective well-being.” The ASA Honors Program provides undergraduate sociology students a rich introduction to the professional life of the discipline. Exceptional sociology students from throughout the country and the world come together for four days and experience all facets of the ASA Annual Meetings. By participating in the Honors Program, students develop long-lasting networks with other aspiring sociologists while their sponsoring departments have a chance to “showcase” their own quality programs and their most outstanding students.

Ms. Lewis looks forward to the wide-array of professional activities offered over the week she will attend both conferences. “I hope to talk to prominent sociologists, graduate students, and professionals in my field of interest,” she explained.

Lewis values every opportunity that comes her way, including the APA conference in Oregon which, she says, was really beneficial. “The small peer groups and mentoring programs to prepare students headed for graduate school were conference highlights.  I learned a lot and it helped me prepare for the San Francisco Conference where I will present two research papers.”

Lewis will enter West Chester University’s M.S. Applied Statistics program as an Honors College Graduate Assistant this fall.