The Western Psychological Association (WPA) was founded in 1921 and their annual conference attempts to bring students, professors, and practitioners of psychology together for professional, scientific, and educational exchange. It is a regional event that gathers psychologist from school throughout the western region of the United States (i.e. UCLA, Biola, UC Davis, UNLV.) Due to COVID-19, the conference took place online from October 28, 2020 to October 31, 2020.
The strength of this annual conference has always been the diversity of topics and people that attend, and this year was no different. The event included research posters of various topics, from the role of children’s self-reported interpretations of daily stressors to the deeper understanding of path analysis in psychology research. Furthermore, this conference has always encouraged undergraduates and graduate students to participate by attending or presenting their own research studies. Yet, well-established psychologists also attend to give keynotes speeches and interact with both colleagues and students alike.
Therefore, the most rewarding aspect of this conference is the fact that the psychology department selected 3 psychology students from Vanguard to also attend the conference on scholarship, and they had the opportunity to hear from, and interact, with psychologists that they read about in their textbooks, such as Dr. Phillip Zimbardo from Stanford University, who conducted the famous prison experiment, and Dr. Elizabeth Loftus from UC Irvine, who conducted seminal studies on the faulty nature of our memory. Our students were also able to explore the various psychological research posters at the conferences conducted by other undergraduate and graduate students just like them and learn more about graduate programs from the representatives of the schools attending the conference.
This conference never fails to encourage and inspire me with new research ideas and teaching techniques, but what I find the most fulfilling is that, with the support of the psychology department, this conference serves as an important introduction to our Vanguard undergraduate students about the vast possibilities that await them in the area of psychology upon graduation.