“We are PsySSA!”, Ms Anne Kramers-Olen ecstatically announced from the Plenary podium. That, for me, was the beginning of Mamela Psychology 2018. This year’s PsySSA Congress showcased several various new additions to PsySSA and Psychology in South Africa, with active participation from the Student Division.
Once again, the Student Division, had the honour of coordinating the student volunteers for the conference, and assisting with various conference logistics. Volunteers reported having an unforgettable and enjoyable experience from the minute they walked in to the last second of the last day. Volunteers had the opportunity to sit in on ground breaking presentations in the field of the psychology while also networking with various professionals. Our volunteer team was commanded by various professionals for their outstanding dedication and the decorum in which they carried themselves. The Division thanks all our leadership members and affiliated student societies, for helping in making this year’s conference a success. Below are some reviews of this year’s conference, from a few volunteers:
The PsySSA 24th Annual Psychology Congress was an unrivaled experience and exceeded my greatest expectations. The highlight was undoubtedly Justice Edwin Cameron, and the profundity of his message will stay with me forever. Being a part of the PsySSA volunteer team was extremely rewarding. Every single person worked hard and epitomized the concept of teamwork and community. Meeting the PsySSA team in person was also a highlight, and I left the conference feeling academically and personally enriched. I look forward to volunteering next year and found this experience incomparable. I feel proud and privileged to have been a part of Congress this year.
The networking session felt like being surrounded by celebrities and overwhelming because of the amount of knowledge in one room and not being sure who to approach. I did finally get to speak to one professor, Kobus Maree and I was touched by his passion for the work he does, his humility, and how relatable he is.
The major highlight of my experience had to be the volunteer group and the leadership team. I had so many laughs and a great opportunity to network with amazing psych students from different walks of life. The Volunteer Coordinator leadership was very admirable; there was never place for ego and hierarchy as they always did their best to prioritize our needs during the Congress. I’m very proud and grateful to have been part of this year’s volunteer team!
Apart from assisting with the logistics of the conference, we were also offered the opportunity to partake in various parts of the programme. Our chairperson, Mr Hennie Nel represented the Student Division, in a Division of Research Methodology (DRM) Careers Symposium.
The panel was a representation of research psychology in different levels, sharing tips from their various perspectives and engagement from the audience. It emphasised the relevance of Research Psychology, within the discipline but also in private contexts where the immense toolset that researchers are equipped with are in high demand. Challenges of academia and private consultation were discussed as well as tips on building up experience to monetise their offering. We urge you to watch the DRM space for more information on the outcome of the Symposium.
The Student Division thanks the DRM for giving students representation and listening to our voice.
Interdivisional collaboration aside, the Student Division’s Vice-chairperson, Mr Muhammed Yaeesh Cassim, alongside Mr Nel, presented on the PsySSA council endorsed Student Division Mentorship Programme. The presentation was well received by students and professionals alike, with many individuals expressing a keen interest in the programme.
Following the Mentorship Programme presentation, the Student Division also hosted a panel discussion chaired by Mr Nel, which spoke about the needs of the students and finding solutions to them.
Student Division leadership was not alone in presenting at conference. It was amazing to see so many students presenting their work and findings at the conference, allowing professional engagement and critique.
This year’s conference also saw the release of the new Scope of Practice by the Health Professions Council of South Africa, open for public engagement. This was a notable event that the Student Division and its volunteers got to attend, as this will shape the future of psychology in South Africa. It was during this release that I realised that the future of psychology and PsySSA is in this division, as we, as students, are the future.
Overall, from the moment Professor Tholene Sodi declared the opening of Mamela Psychology 2018, to the closing where he handed the reigns over to Dr Helen Dubar-Krige, the conference was a memory that I will cherish forever. It allowed students to be heard with humility, showcased how far psychology has come in South Africa, under PsySSA’s leadership, and what obstacles it still needs to overcome to bring a more African, relevant and responsive psychology to the public. It also allowed the Student Division to grow its networks, and to be part of the journey of psychology to the future and wrap up a successful Divisional year with our Divisional Annual General Meeting (for all information relating to our AGM please refer to the Member News and Divisional News sections).
The conference demanded a vast amount of work and effort; however, it did not go unrewarded. I am proud to announce that at the PsySSA Annual General Meeting, the Student Division was awarded the Most Improved Division Award. Congratulations to the division’s Executive Committee and leadership structures, who made this possible. I look forward to building on this and becoming the most active division next year.
The success of this conference would have not been possible without several individuals, firstly to, Ms Tamaryn Wilde & Ms Genevieve Burrow, who formed part of the volunteers’ leadership team, thank you for the outstanding work you put into this conference. To the volunteers who left conference with aches and pains and came back the next day full of energy, thank you for persevering. To Dr Ewald Crause & Ms Fatima Seedat, thank you for the continued support that you give to the Student Division. Finally, to my Executive Committee and chairperson, Mr Nel, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to coordinate the volunteers and represent the Student Division, it was truly an honour. The Student Division this year has had a very eventful and successful year, and this is due to the strength of leadership. I look forward to an even better and greater year in 2019.
Muhammed Yaeesh Cassim
PsySSA Student Division Vice-chairperson
PsySSA Student of the Year 2018
Mamela Psychology Volunteer Coordinator