A Conversation with the Co-Presidents of the Psychology Club

September 26, 2022 - Shelly DeJong, Alexander Gutanski

Helena Corda and Lauren GunterHelena Corda and Lauren Gunter are the co-presidents of the Psychology Club, a campus group for anyone interested in the field of psychology. Students connect with their peers, volunteer at various events, and get insights into a variety of career opportunities. We reached out to Helena and Lauren to learn about their lives, the benefits of being involved on campus, and their goals as co-presidents.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?

Helena: I'm from Geneva, Illinois. I am a senior double majoring in psychology and communication sciences and disorders. I’m applying to grad school right now for speech pathology.

Lauren: My hometown is Grosse Ile, Michigan. It's an island between Michigan and Canada. I'm a senior neuroscience major. I originally wanted to double major in biology and psychology, but I found that neuroscience is the perfect combination of the two. The psych club is my outlet for my interest in psychology.

Q: How do you see psychology feeding into the career tracks you want to go in?

Lauren: I'm on the pre-dental track so I'm applying to dental school right now. I think psychology will be useful because I'll be doing a lot of patient interaction. I think that will help me just in my day-to-day interaction with patients and kind of understanding how they might react to things because a lot of people hate going to the dentist. It’s helping me learn how to approach that and make people feel more comfortable in my office.

Helena: With speech, there is so much that goes into it psychologically. I want to observe the brain and behaviors of patients and try to figure out those connections to understand a speech disorder further than just hearing it. I would like to be more personal with each of my clients individually and know their backgrounds. If they do have certain psychological issues, to understand that at a different level so I can further help them than just their speech.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about Psychology Club?

Helena: We're a club that meets every other week for an hour. We have speakers come in from the community or from the school and talk about their experiences. Hearing directly from a variety of people in the field shows is helpful. We also try to do some fun events too. With COVID, we haven't been able to make that a possibility but this year, we're working towards it. It's hard to meet people during meetings so we want to have outside interactions, too! People can form friendships and then maybe figure out what classes they have together and sit by each other in classes. I know I would have loved to do that. But I never got the chance.

Lauren: I'd say that our biggest focus this year will be building community within the psychology major, and outside of the psychology major. I know a lot of people when we're participating will walk up, and they'll say, “but I'm not a psychology major.” And they feel they can't join the club for that reason. But Helena and I are the co-presidents, and we're not strictly psych majors. Our focus is on fostering that community and making people feel welcome, both those who major in psychology and who are just interested.

Q: Do you remember any moments or speakers that you resonated with?

Lauren: We had Dr. Kelly Klump speak this previous year, and she came to talk to us about grad school applications. While I'm not applying to psychology programs for graduate school, the way that she discussed it with us was very personal and engaging. A lot of times I feel when you go to grad school meetings, people will give you the same answers over and over. But she was honest about the process, and I think it helped everybody feel more comfortable with it.

Helena: We brought in a speech pathology speaker and that was great for me! I haven't been able to shadow a professional in the field I’m studying, so having someone in the field share their insights was helpful. It showed me that it could be what I'm doing in four years!

Q: What have you gotten out of Psychology Club?

Lauren: I think the biggest thing I've gotten out of it is the connections that I've made both with the speakers that we invite and with members of the club. Like the e-board, I consider them all my friends. Helena and I have bonded a lot over our work as co-presidents, too. Also, the knowledge that we gain from our speakers who have been down the path that we're on already, and the wisdom that they can provide.

Helena: What I've gotten out of the psych club is the leadership aspect. Figuring out what resources we can use, collaborating with our advisor, trying to make the e-board more collaborative, and providing leadership opportunities for everyone. We want everyone to have experience and feel comfortable and competent being a leader. We also want to make sure the e-board feels like they have a say. They can run a meeting and they feel confident and comfortable reaching out to other speakers and everything.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Helena: Since we started being co-presidents, we've tried to positively change the club. we started doing more fundraising events and things to bring everyone together. We started participating in the Out of the Darkness walk in Lansing for suicide prevention. You raise money and then you go to the event in Lansing to walk around together and hear personal stories about people who have been impacted. It’s such a powerful event, I felt changed after it. So I hope a lot of our members go this year.

Lauren: We’re trying to emphasize more community involvement as a whole and also advocacy. We’re looking to incorporate regular volunteer opportunities for our club members in the Lansing community. It can be hard knowing what opportunities are out there and kind of intimidating to participate in them by yourself. If we create a group where you can do that together, people will be more open to it.

The East Lansing Out of the Darkness Walk, event is on Oct. 1. If you would like to make a donation, or learn how to participate, visit the event page linked here. You can also find information about how to join the Psychology Club here.