Three of Lorain County Community College’s Psi Beta community college psychology national honor society research teams have been recognized for their in-depth research, an exciting feat for a community college research team. Their work will be featured at the Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, and one group has been chosen to present at a national conference.
“The most interesting thing we’ve learned is that there is little to no research done with help seeking behaviors in community college students.” said Halle Branscum, 20, who will graduate from Cleveland State University through LCCC’s University Partnership this year. This is her second time performing research with instructor Dr. Michelle Foust and Professor Jim Jordan, and this time, her group will share their work nationally.
Branscum, Hallie Brown and Elizabeth McDermott’s research was accepted to the Association for Psychological Science’s annual conference in San Francisco this May. Their presentation, “Stigma and Non-Stigma Related Barriers to Help-Seeking Attitudes: Are All Students the Same?” compares four-year students to community college students. The conference is attended by leading researchers in the field, professionals, academicians, and students.
“This has been a great experience doing research,” Branscum said. “It’s been great getting to work more personally with the faculty and getting to work with them outside of the classroom on such a fun project that we’ve gotten to design ourselves,” she added. After she graduates, she plans to get her master’s degree in counseling at Cleveland State University and hopes to start her own practice in Northeast Ohio.
Another group including Brianna Emery, Erin Meyer and Tyler Musial performed research involving “Juror Bias in Heroin Convictions in Regard to Both Racial and Appearance Bias.”
“We are looking at how mixed juries interpret defendants of various races and social economic status appearances,” said Emery, 22, who is set to graduate in December through the University Partnership program at Cleveland State University. “And we’re looking at mixed juries in particular because a lot of the past research has only focused on single-race jurors.” Most of this type of work has not been done at the community college level, she said.
Their work will also be presented at the Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois from April 20-22, as well as at the Columbus conference April 28.
“I never thought that I would be able to go so in-depth with a topic like this. Working with Professor Jordan and Dr. Foust has been really great because I’ve gotten to know them as researchers as well as professors,” Emery added. She hopes to work at a clinical practice with diverse clients in an urban area and complete more research, particularly involving gender.
The third group studied “Relationship Between Mindset, Academic Self-Entitlement and Grit in Community College Students” as part of the Psi Beta National Research Project. Mercy Cruz, Allyssa Earl, Haley Gannon, Riley Hall, Udell Holmes, Sally Ok and Alaina Vogel will also attend the Ohio Dominican University conference to present their findings.
“Joining Psi Beta was a really great opportunity to meet the psychology professors who really helped us and gave me this great opportunity to start this research and start my career right,” said Holmes, 19. “It’s honestly really humbling. Basically I never really saw myself starting out as just a freshman in college presenting research at a conference, so it’s really an awesome experience.” He said he appreciates working with students of different levels.
The group members are eager to explore the topic further. “We also have another hypothesis that we are studying and we are going to be looking at social media and G.P.A. and how it correlates with grit as well,” Earl, 22, said. “Another hypothesis that we have is a correlation between subjective happiness and levels of grit and we found pretty significant results,” Hall, 22, added. All three of them plan to continue their education onto graduate psychology degrees.
“LCCC psychology students are conducting research that most students do not complete until their fourth year of undergraduate studies,” Jordan said. “They are not only preparing themselves for successful transition to a four-year institution, but to graduate school as well. It’s fabulous to watch students develop from curious ‘Introduction to Psychology’ students to presenters at national conferences within a short time period.”
During this year’s honor society induction ceremony, LCCC Psi Beta students had a chance to hear from the keynote speaker, an alumna who also completed research as a student and has found success in her field. Jennifer Reese, Psy.D., is a University Partnership graduate, and a clinical psychologist who oversees clinical training for 700 behavioral health clinical staff members in the Behavioral Health Services department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She’s also a clinical assistant professor in the department of Psychology and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University.
The 42-year-old credits Lorain County Community College’s University Partnership program for helping her get onto her path to success. She originally begun studying at another college right after graduating from high school, but decided she needed a break before beginning at LCCC in 1997 while living in Elyria. Reese started at LCCC right around the time the University Partnership rolled out its psychology bachelor’s degree program with Cleveland State University. Reese said it was perfect timing for her educational journey
“I think the partnership with Cleveland State really afforded me the opportunity to see my dreams all the way through because I don’t know that I would have gotten a bachelor’s degree if I wouldn’t have been able to get it here,” she said. Reese was one of the first psychology bachelor’s graduates to go through the program and graduated in 2000. She later earned her doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Denver in 2005.
LCCC is a big part of who Reese is, she said. “I look back at the bumps along the way that I encountered with education and LCCC really put me on a great trajectory that is why I am where I am today,” she said. Her former psychology professor Eulalio Gonzalez, Ph.D., said he remembers when she started the psychology club at LCCC as a student and worked to attend two conferences with her peers.
Reese’s advice to others is, “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. Have the audacity to dream big.”