William and Mary’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA), a nationally recognized political science honors society, has been chosen to receive the Best Chapter Award for 2018-2019. National representatives read through annual reports summarizing chapter activities and award those with exceptional engagement and student participation.
Chapter Advisor, Professor Dan Maliniak was a member of W&M’s chapter as an undergrad and is proud of the progress the organization has made in recent years. Pi Sigma Alpha’s executive board has put a new focus on student collaboration. One of their main goals is making undergraduate research more accessible to students. Students are able to attend a national political science conference in Washington DC to present their research as well as learn from other PSA members.
PSA members also have the opportunity to be involved in the hiring process for new professors. Invited to attend each candidate’s “job talk,” these students provide feedback on how applicants would fit in at W&M and aide with the recruiting process. Additionally, by engaging in these discussions, students gain an inside look at academia. The ability to see firsthand how professors interact with one another, the questions they ask, and how the general review process works are experiences students can then take with them for future projects.
As much as the chapter focuses on encouraging professor and student interactions, it is a truly student-led organization. Chapter President Grace Kier, class of 2020, says “along with the rest of the Executive Board, I am trying to facilitate more interactions between students and professors, so that students can learn more about all the research opportunities in the Department and professors can find excellent research assistants.”
The students decided they wanted to dedicate themselves to building a community between each other and with their professors to gain insight and skills that will aide them for years to come. They are even working on a social event to allow members to become close with one another. Congratulations Pi Sigma Alpha on the recognition for such hard work!