Introducing Professor Lora Vasiliauskas – Psi Beta’s New Southeastern Regional Vice-President

By Jerry Rudmann, Executive Director, Psi Beta

I am pleased to announce that the Southeastern regional Psi Beta chapters have confirmed professor Lora Vasiliauskas as Southeastern Region Vice-President!  Over the years, Lora’s chapter at Virginia Western Community College has been one of the most active in the nation! I am sharing Lora’s candidate statement below. It’s an excellent self-introduction.

A Message from Lora Vasiliauskas – Many years ago, when I was a student at the College of DuPage, we did not have a Psi Beta Chapter; Psi Beta was young and not yet admitted into the Association of College Honor Societies.  I was lucky enough to have psychology faculty to mentor me and a group of students who had an interest in psychology. We not only socialized but also engaged in activities that fostered that interest. In essence, we had a group that could have been a Psi Beta chapter at another time.  After graduate school, I worked in the practical field of psychology fulltime and began teaching as an adjunct at the same community college I attended. I also served as an adjunct at several other colleges before flip-flopping my career and beginning to teach at the community college level full-time.  While an adjunct, my past mentors continued to influence my interactions with students both in and out of the classroom. I wanted to be more than a teacher, and I wanted to mentor students and foster their interest in learning psychology and understanding how our field intertwines with their academic and career goals.  When I learned that the College of DuPage established a Psi Beta chapter, I began to work with the group even though I was an adjunct. I was lucky to have some excellent students and chapter advisors; I learned more about Psi Beta and the direct and indirect benefits for students, as well as for advisors. That experience led me to reestablish the Psi Beta Chapter at Illinois Valley Community College and to establish the Psi Beta Chapter and Psychology Club, where I teach now at Virginia Western Community College.

Over the years, I have been honored to work with students I have seen grow personally, socially, and academically. They have become more confident and trusting in their abilities to be leaders and to be more scientifically curious, think critically, write, and present. They have become more comfortable interacting with others who value psychology as a field and as a science at the college, conferences, and community. Changes that I watch unfold before me – their sense of belonging, the bonds that develop, the willingness to take risks, and the support students give one another – is hard to explain on paper.

Our chapter is very active. We have been honored with the Chapter Excellence award every year since our first submission for the 2011-2012 school year.  We have won the Carol Tracy Community Service Award, several years for chapter service activities, and once for a student-organized service activity. I was honored when I was nominated by my students for the Virginia Staudt Sexton Faculty Advisor Award several years ago – that was such a surprise. We sponsor psychology lectures on campus, ‘Psych Chats,’ fundraise, engage in service activities, organize awareness events, are involved with transfer events, attend lectures and conferences in and out of state, engaged in and presented research, and more. Some former students continue to reach out or simply touch base years after leaving our college; one even came back to work at VWCC; he now also helps mentor and advise our group. He would tell you that one of the most valuable experiences he had as a member of our chapter was our ability to attend the Synergy Conference held in Pennsylvania.  I would love to see that conference revived!

In reflecting upon my experiences as a professor, as the chair of my department, and as the faculty advisor of Virginia Western Community College’s Psi Beta chapter and Psychology Club, I feel that my mentors successfully passed their torch (though I am still always learning). As the Southeastern Regional Vice President, I hope to be involved with exploring ways to increase communication and interaction, collaborate, share resources, ideas, and information between chapters and regions. We all have so many wonderful ideas, resources, and experiences to share and ways involve our students within our own chapters; they can also help other chapters. Also, I would like to explore ways to increase interaction between chapters – not only within a state but interstate or regionally. Given the distance between many of the chapters, some of these tasks are easier to address than others; at times, what seems like a small step is actually a big step.

I thank Psi Beta students and advisors who have mentored and supported me and those who have paved the path for all of us.  I feel my experiences as a teacher, mentor, advisor, and working with students and other faculty in and out of the classroom, my commitment to learning, and ‘all things’ psychology makes me a strong candidate to help continue the mission of Psi Beta. I am honored to serve as the Psi Beta Southeastern Regional Vice President position.

Sincerely,

Lora Vasiliauskas
Associate Professor of Psychology
Program Head/Department Chair – Psychology
Psi Beta and Psychology Club Advisor
Virginia Western Community College
Chair – Virginia Community College System Psychology Peer Group

 

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