Fayette students shine at Laurel Highlands Undergraduate Psychology Conference

Students standing alongside their faculty mentors at the research conference.

Eight students from Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, and their faculty mentors recently attended the 25th annual Laurel Highlands Undergraduate Psychology Conference on April 15 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Pictured, left to right, are Tessa Lynn, Elaine Barry, Olivia Spotto, Madison Kostandinu, Madison Richards, Ashley Ringer, Sarah Bielawski, Julie Seliga, Aris Karagiorgakis and Lucas Beddick.

Credit: Aris Karagiorgakis

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Eight students from Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, recently attended the 25th annual Laurel Highlands Undergraduate Psychology Conference on April 15 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. In an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity and academic rigor, the students shared their experiences, learning outcomes, and the significant impact the event had on their academic journeys.

Human development and family studies research

Among the attendees, three human development and family studies students from Penn State Fayette presented their unique research at the conference.

Olivia Spotto, who discussed "Willingness of College Students to Socially Interact with a Heterosexual or Homosexual Couple," expressed gratitude for the opportunity.

"I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to present here, because it's like a pilot for new research and presentation opportunities in the future," she said.

Spotto also acknowledged the support she received from the academic community.

"It’s really cool that the idea of somebody else is offering support of my project and the community that I’m doing research on," she said. "They believe in that. It’s representative of the values and inclusivity of Penn State. Big thanks to Dr. Elaine Barry, without her, this wouldn’t have been possible."

Meanwhile, Madison Kostandinu examined "Procrastination and Worries Among College Students." Her research delved into the reasons behind procrastination and the impact it has on students' academic performance and mental health.

“Going to this undergraduate conference was very rewarding,” said Kostandinu. “I learned so much from other presenters there and they even helped me open my eyes about possible future changes to my study. I enjoyed getting to present the things I have learned and worked on over the course of the semester.”

Ashley Ringer took a deep dive into mental health therapy approaches with her presentation on "Student Recommendations for Individual versus Group Therapy for Grief." Ringer's research provided a valuable contribution to ongoing debates in the field of psychology and counseling.

“I was both encouraged and surprised by the responses I got from my poster,” said Ringer. “The research I have done on grief is a very relevant topic, but not often talked about. I was not sure how fellow presenters and faculty would react to my research; however, I was greeted with positivity from everyone and had several meaningful conversations.”

Fostering confidence in research environments

The conference was a platform for students to present their research, learn about different research methods, and understand the importance of their work in the broader academic landscape. It also offered them a glimpse into their future careers, giving them a chance to visualize their potential paths in academia and professional practice.

Madison Richards, a psychology major with a focus on forensics, emphasized the value of the conference's workshops. One session in particular, focusing on preparing for graduate school, stood out for her. She found the information provided at the conference to be invaluable.

"They gave a lot of good information about what you should be doing," she said.

Lucas Beddick, another psychology major interested in academia, appreciated the chance to attend the conference.

"It's very useful to see what other undergraduates are doing in psychology at other institutions," he said.

"What I'm doing now is similar to what other campuses are doing," added Julie Seliga, another psychology student. "Knowing that it's the same thing that if I go to grad school, it's going to help me there also."

The diversity in the research topics presented at the conference further highlighted the breadth of the field. The students observed research presentations that ranged from cat behavior to the psychological impact of art, further affirming their belief that the scope of their work could be equally vast and impactful.

As the students continue their journey at Penn State Fayette, they are armed with newfound knowledge, confidence and an understanding of the importance of their work. 

Learn more about what programs and opportunities Penn State Fayette offers. Visit fayette.psu.edu or call 724-430-4130 and schedule a visit today.