DelVal students present with a faculty member at a national psychology conference

Apr 03, 2012

Five counseling psychology students traveled with their professor, Dr. Audrey Ervin, to California to participate in the Association for Women in Psychology conference from March 8-11. The students and Dr. Ervin gave a peer reviewed presentation on social justice work at the event.


Linda Dalton (a DelVal alumnus) , Catherine Boyer, Michael Rosenthal, Wendy Wakefield, Jackie Shunkwiler, Barb Krier and Dr. Audrey Ervin.

The students worked with social justice-related groups at DelVal to facilitate some anti-bias initiatives and then had their work accepted to the national conference.

They were able to attend thanks to funding from a Delaware Valley College professional development grant.

Their presentation was entitled, “Hearing Our Voices: Using the Empowerment Process Model to Advance Social Justice Initiatives on Campus and Beyond.”

Dr. Ervin also presented, “Addressing Students’ Sexist, Racist and Heterosexist Microaggressions in the Classroom: Strategies, Struggles & Support.”

The students had the opportunity to learn about current issues in mental health, feminist psychology, activism and social justice at the conference.

They also attended workshops with renowned authors and social activists such as: bell hooks (who does not capitalize her name), Leonore Tiefer and Paula Caplan.

The counseling psychology majors networked with mental health professionals, spoke with graduate school training directors and attended presentations with prominent theorists and researchers in psychology.

Two of the students, Catherine Boyer and Barb Krier, were attending for the second time.

“The AWP conference was packed with opportunities to connect with professionals as well as students working and doing research,” said Krier. “The experience allowed me to grow as a student, develop professional contacts, and enhance my relationships with my classmates.”

Krier said she attended a workshop with professors who discussed how they included multicultural and feminist topics in their classrooms.

The event also included poster presentations by students, which Krier said allowed her to see many different and interesting areas of research.

Michael Rosenthal, another student who participated, enjoyed getting to know the speakers and the other conference participants.

“The conference allowed me to come into contact with many professionals in the field along with many key figures in the social justice movement,” said Rosenthal.

Rosenthal attended a workshop with bell hooks. 

"I decided to sit in the front row, bell hooks ended up learning my name. The next day, I walked passed her and we greeted each other and interacted," said Rosenthal. "A.W.P. allows for students like me, just learning about the field of psychology, to get the opportunity to speak with and learn from many professionals who have made major contributions to society and to the field.”

Rosenthal said that he was able to express his ideas and really participate at the conference.

“The conference broke down hierarchies and allowed people with different experiences in psychology to come together and learn from one another on the same playing field,” said Rosenthal. “I felt my voice was equally important as anyone else’s at the conference.”

Jackie Shunkwiler, another student from the group, will remember the trip long after she graduates.

“It is definitely an experience that I will never forget,” said Shunkwiler. “…I am definitely planning on attending next year’s conference.  The group that I went with even discussed going together again as a sort of ‘reunion.’”

The trip gave the counseling psychology students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and learn in an exciting way. Opportunities to learn through experience are a key part of a DelVal education.

“The theories, practices, activism, and more that I have been exposed to, the valuable knowledge that I have gained, and the ability to network with some indescribable women is something that I could never gain in the classroom,” said Boyer who enjoyed every moment of the conference.