EWU McNair Scholar Arcelia Madrigal attended the 2023 National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado last week. Arcelia did both a poster presentation of her McNair Summer Research, Cultural Experience and Perception of Social Emotional Learning, as well as a two-hour paper session with a team led by Arcelia’s mentor, Dr. Susan Ruby, titled Supporting Schools in Selecting, Implementing, and Evaluating Transformative SEL Programs. The other members of the research team, Dr. Kathleen Waldron-Soler and Dr. Sara Kayne, are both EWU professors who teach online, so Arcelia had a great time getting to collaborate with them face to face. Each team member brought their expertise to this project. Arcelia contributed her research on how to rate program components when choosing a curriculum, based on her analysis of Character Strong’s PurposeFull People curriculum. Working with professors in her chosen field was an enriching experience for Arcelia as an undergraduate in the grad school application process.
What Arcelia valued most about attending the conference was the diversity of presenters and attendees. She networked with other POC school psychologists and learned about how others in her field are transforming SEL (Social Emotional Learning) to incorporate and apply to more cultural identities. Arcelia felt her research was validated, and the need for her work was proven. She came away feeling more secure, heard, and valued for her contributions. It was a good experience witnessing how change actually happens within school psychology, as researchers and practitioners respond to current events, update literature, and support one another as a professional community.
Arcelia recommends conference attendance to McNair scholars especially for the opportunity to network with others in your field. She reminds students to look ahead at the conference schedule to ensure you’ll be able to attend presentations by professors you might like to work with in graduate school, and invite them to your presentation. Arcelia connected with a professor at a graduate program she applied to, who told her that even if she is not accepted, they would love to collaborate with her in the future. She says,
You never know who you’ll meet, who is listening to your presentation, and whose work will align with your own.