Neha Shrestha, a junior psychology major and international student at Southern Arkansas University, was recently elected Undergraduate Representative for the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA). She is the first SAU student to have earned this distinction.

Shrestha, from Nepal, is following in the footsteps of an uncle who also graduated from SAU. “He was the first person from my family to come to the United States to further his education, and he told me about his experience here,” she said. “I had heard so much about the international group (of students) at SAU, how friendly and close-knit they are, and I have found that to be very true.”

She attended the annual regional meeting of SWPA April 5-7, 2019, in Albuquerque, N.M., where she presented her original research comparing international and domestic students’ knowledge, perception and experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment as well as their knowledge of Title IX.

According to the Press release, she studied this topic because high rates of sexual assaults and sexual harassment on campuses in the United States leave international students especially vulnerable to victimization. Shrestha shared in her platform that she is enjoying her undergraduate journey and that exploring psychology has been a significant part of her education. She is a former president of the International Students Association (ISA) at SAU.

She was nominated for Undergraduate Representative by Dr. Deborah Wilson, chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences at SAU. She said Shrestha is “committed to giving her time and energy as she volunteers as SWPA representative.”

“Dr. Wilson has been my No. 1 motivator,” Shrestha said.

Serving as Undergraduate Representative for the SWPA will help Shrestha have a better understanding of undergraduate psychology students around the nation. “It will make me a more effective peer leader and I hope to influence students to get involved in SWPA.”

She looks forward to her position putting a spotlight on SAU and communicating with other universities to promote research. She hopes to make an impact through her position and make Dr. Wilson and the SAU community proud.

Linda Bashinskaya, a senior psychology major from Blue Ridge, Texas, and Brittany Lindsey, a senior psychology major from Paris, Texas, also attended the 2019 SWPA conference with Shrestha and presented posters. Their travel to the conference was funded in part by the SAU Foundation and Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology.