Emil's Epilogue - February 2010
Gustie Psych News & Events hearts

Events and Conferences

  • 2010 Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference
  • Midwestern Psychological Association Meeting
    • April 29 – May 1, 2010
    • Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL
  • Creative Inquiry - Gustavus
    • Friday - April 30, 2010
  • MidBrains
    • Saturday - May 1, 2010
    • St. Olaf College, Northfield
  • Honors Day - Gustavus
    • Saturday - May 1, 2010
  • Spring Psychology Symposium
    • Friday - May 14, 2010

Spotlight on a psychology major - Leigh Ann Mason

Leigh Ann Mason is a Psychology Major (2011) and the 2010 Building Bridges Business Manager/Action Piece Co-Chair. She submitted the following article about this year's conference:

  • Building Bridges Conference - “Immigration: Surviving the Land of Opportunity”
  • March 13, 2010 (Keynote begins at 10AM)

Building Bridges is a student-led diversity conference centered on social justice and equality.  Each year, students on the committee work to put on a conference focused on a social justice issue chosen by the co-chairs of the committee.  Mayanthi Jayawardena and Rebekah Schulz, this year’s co-chairs, chose immigration as the topic for the 2010 Building Bridges Conference.  This year’s keynote speakers are Kao Kalia Yang, a Hmong-American writer and immigrant and Dr. Paul Hillmer, a history professor at Concordia University with special expertise about Hmong history.  Building Bridges is in its 15th year of raising awareness and bringing distinguished speakers and workshop presenters to the Gustavus campus.  Last year, Building Bridges presented a conference on education, and in 2008 the conference focused on genocide. 

“Immigration: Surviving the Land of Opportunity” will consist of a presentation by the keynote speakers, workshops that will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn about immigration from different perspectives, and an “action piece” where attendees have the opportunity to take part in an interactive tented immigration walk-through of the immigration process in Alumni Hall.  After the walk-through, everyone is invited to help assemble care packages of basic necessities for recently arrived immigrants, package food to be donated to the St. Peter Soup Kitchen, donate to a scholarship fund for a local immigrant, and write letters to congress members to pass current legislation about immigration.

  • I am so proud to be a part of an organization dedicated to making a difference and constantly advocating for social change.  I think the conference is a great opportunity for the Gustavus community to focus on issues that are often overlooked.  The Building Bridges conference reaches out to so many people outside the Gustavus community and makes connections with local and student organizations.  Ideally, attendees will come out of this experience with a greater understanding about the struggles of immigration and look past the typical stereotypes of immigrants. 

The conference is completely free to the Gustavus community as well as non-Gustavus students.  Tickets are required for the event - students, faculty and staff get one complimentary ticket for the conference.  For more information about Building Bridges, ticket information and a schedule of conference events please visit:  http://gustavus.edu/diversity/buildingbridges/

---Leigh Ann Mason

Spotlight on a psychology alum - Joyce Sinakhone '06

After graduating from Gustavus in 2006, I decided to live and work abroad.  Thanks to many wonderful faculty and staff members, the college years I spent in the United States were especially joyous and important to my development as a young adult.  Joyce S

I’ve recently learned that the immigrant experience is the main topic of this year’s Building Bridges Conference and I am reminded of my last visit to the State Fair – one of my favorite childhood locations.  I distinctly recall seeing a man’s shirt with, “Welcome to America” proclaimed in fancy print across the front with a flag waving in the background.  On the back it read in plain bold letters, “Now, speak English.”  As a daughter of two Laotian, Vietnam War refugees and lucky enough to be born in the States, I was already aware that mastery of a language was not simply a matter of personal motivation.  And now, after living in Japan and returning from abroad, I realize that the difficulties immigrants face are even more poignant than I’d previously imagined.

Language is just one of the many difficulties that I had to overcome while abroad.  Customer service in the Japanese culture is generally held to a very high standard, therefore, when I struggled with language to explain my situation or was unable to respond to a drawn out, unintelligible question, most people were polite and tried to assist me in whatever English they knew.  In my opinion, there are few countries where I would have experienced that kind of patience.  Regardless, being unfamiliar with a certain procedure or unable to articulate the answer to the simplest task can be extremely frustrating as well as embarrassing.

One person told me, “You’re so brave to go to a country where you can’t speak the language and have no contacts.”  Although it was nice to be considered brave, I was very aware that I had not left my family and friends because my life was at risk, nor did I need to find job in order to meet my basic needs. By simply being an American, I was guaranteed a line of easy-to-find work that was not physically dangerous or particularly unstable.

Despite the fact that I blended in easily and was never stopped by the police asking for my passport or alien registration card, I was not immune from discrimination. Most newcomers to a country have no way of knowing what their rights are, and like me, most foreigners cannot depend upon being given benefits required by law at the workplace.  After coming across a Foreigner’s Survival Manual at an English bookstore and attempting to unionize my coworkers, I sued a company for illegally dismissing me for union activities.  It was difficult to be away from my family and a familiar legal system during this time, particularly when immigration people and the police became involved.  In the end however, with the help of many friends and union members, I won the case.

Although my situation was very unusual, I most certainly empathize with the experiences of immigrants.  I know how even small, negative interactions and feelings can eventually wear a person down.  That is why upon my return to the States, I wish I could find the guy wearing that shirt at the Fair so I could tell him, “We are doing the best we can with what we have.  Are you?”

-- Joyce Sinakhone '06

Spotlight on a psychology alum - Rachel Anderson '06

After graduating from Gustavus in 2006, I decided to return to my "writing" roots. In 2007 I spent two months volunteer teaching English in Cusco, Peru. I spent 2008 studying copywriting at a well-known advertising school in Minneapolis. The roaming writer in me emerged again in 2009: I sought out, applied and was accepted for a full-time writer/editor position with VIVA Travel Rachel AndersonGuides, a Latin America travel guide publisher based in Quito, Ecuador. Since February of this year I have been working in Ecuador, learning about the publishing industry and refining my writing/editing skills. During my downtime I summit volcanoes, zip-line through cloud forests and beef up on my Español. Overall it has been an amazing experience for me both personally and professionally. As I immerse myself in such a diverse and different culture, I am often reminded of my psychology studies and how they apply to the real world. I met my boyfriend here in Ecuador, and his anthropology/archaeology background compliments my psychology background extremely well. The writer in me has always been curious about people and the mind, which is what drove me to psychology in the first place. Even though I am not directly practicing psychology, I believe my studies have enabled me to explore the world with a curious, perceptive and educated eye. Buen viaje! (Happy travels!)

This photo was taken during my trip to Quilotoa, a volcanic crater lake in the Andes of Ecuador. It was amazing! A little chilly, but nothing compared to Minnesota :)

---Rachel Anderson '06

Link to Previous Alumni Updates

Excerpt/Fall 09 term experience - Tanner Winslow

[This paragraph was submitted during Fall 09 Study Abroad]: I am studying at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. I planned on taking two elective psychology classes here, but Tanner Winslowunfortunately they were so full that no international students got in, despite the classes being offered in English. Something that has surprised me here in Sweden is how good everyone seems to be at speaking English. An extremely tall Frenchman gave me the most interesting explanation for this phenomena, TV. He believes that airing U.S. TV shows in English with Swedish subtitles rather than airing the shows with dubbed over voices like in France has allowed the Swedes to grow their English skills to such high heights. Something to think about.

P.S. Careful observers will notice that the flag flying in the background of this picture is actually the German flag...that is because this picture is from the Reichstag in Berlin, and really has nothing to do with Sweden.




Recent Department Happenings

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Methods II students presented research posters at the Department Research Symposium on Friday, December 11.

  • Paul Huff and Jean-Paul Noel discuss research findings

The Department hosted psychology majors and general psychology students at our traditional Cookie and Cider Day on December 14. Congratulations to Mandy Sati who was the winner of the department holiday gift drawing!

GingerBread House

Psi Chi sponsored a very successful Gingerbread House Making event in December at which members from across the entire campus community came together for an evening of creative construction!


Dr. Chambers' Fall 2009 Developmental Psychology students worked with the Children's Museum of AmazingSouthern Minnesota to develop museum exhibits for children and their parents in conjunction with the museum's Amazing Castle event on November 19, 2009 at the Madison East Mall in Mankato. The museum intends to further develop three or four of the student exhibits and eventually integrate them into the museum's exhibit rotation. Additional event photos can be viewed at:

Date change for the Kendall Lecture Series Speaker - Mahzarin Banaji
  • The Psychology Department will host Mahzarin R. Banaji as the 2010 John Kendall Lecture Series Presenter during the week of October 14/15, 2010.

    The John Kendall Lecture Series was established to honor Dr. John Kendall for his contributions to the Psychology Department and for his support and influence in the careers of his students.  John was a member of the Psychology Department for fifteen years prior to becoming President of the College in 1980. 

    • The Kendall Lecture, presented by a noted researcher in the field of psychology, is intended to recognize and commemorate Dr. Kendall’s abiding interest and commitment to the empirical investigation of behavior and psychology as a science.  Funding for the public address and classroom visits is provided through the John Kendall Lecture Series Endowment, established in 1985 through the efforts of department faculty and the financial contributions of psychology majors while Dr. Kendall was teaching in the department.
  • Mahzarin R. Banaji was Director of Undergraduate Studies at Yale for many years, and is currently Head Tutor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, as well as by several private foundations. [Information taken from the website below.] Please refer to http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~banaji/bio/index.htm for more on Banaji's professional background and research interests.

Recent Articles and Publications

  • Chambers, K. E., Onishi, K. H., & Fisher, C. (in press). A vowel is a vowel: Generalizing newly-learned phonotactic constraints to new contexts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

Why is this newsletter named Emil's Epilogue?

Planning on asking faculty for a reference letter?

Prepare by providing them with the information they will need: http://www.gustavus.edu/academics/psych/referenceletternf4.htm

Intern/Fellowships & Career Opportunities

Subject:  U of M Short Courses
  • Students have access to FREE e-learning tools for career exploration on health careers from the University of Minnesota, including, personal statements for a health program, interviewing skills for a health program, and planning for medical school.
    For more information about the Health Careers Center, please visit:  www.healthcareers.umn.edu The short courses are available on the Gustavus Career Center home page at:  http://www.healthcareers.umn.edu/shortcourses/gustavus/
    Contact Heather Banks (7523 or hbanks@gustavus.edu) if you have any questions.

Student Sport Psychology Opportunities

Lab Manager - Child Development - Johns Hopkins University

Summer Research University of Maryland, College Park

BreakThrough Saint Paul - Paid Summer Internships

Summer Opportunity - Yale Cognition Lab

Lab Coordinator - UCSD