Adolescent Connectedness & Empowerment Lab

The Adolescent Connectedness and Empowerment (ACE) Lab aims to identify, develop, and evaluate effective strategies to foster healthy developmental outcomes during adolescence and the transition to adulthood, particularly among marginalized populations.

We are broadly interested in positive youth development approaches, with an emphasis on interventions that leverage the power of mentoring relationships and networks of support. We recently were awarded 3 years of funding from the William T Grant Foundation to conduct an evaluation of an intervention designed to teach first-generation college students to cultivate mentoring relationships and social capital during the transition to college. More generally, we are interested in studying school and community-based programs that empower young people and promote social-emotional learning. Some additional lab research topics include school-based mental health services, mental health stigma, positive affect, youth community organizing, and youth engagement in climate activism. 

Sarah Schwartz, PhD

To learn more about Dr. Sarah Schwartz and her work, please visit her faculty page. 

References and Materials

On this page you will find a list of selected publications. Please feel free to contact Sarah Schwartz for copies of articles and materials.

Selected Publications

*Denotes graduate student author 

*Parnes, M., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., Schwartz, S. (in press). Academic Outcomes Among Diverse Community College Students: What is the Role of Instructor Relationships? Community College Review.

Raposa, E., Rhodes, J., Stams, G., Card, N., Burton, S., Schwartz, S., Yoviene, L., Kanchewa, S., Kupersmidt, J., Hussain, S. (2019). The effects of youth mentoring programs: A meta-analysis of outcome studies. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(3), 423-443. doi:/10.1007/s10964-019-00982-8

*Austin, L. J., Schwartz, S. (2018). Addressing mental health stigma in early adolescence: Middle school antistigma interventions. Adolescent Research Review. DOI: 10.1007/s40894-018-0101-8

Schwartz, S., Kanchewa, S., Rhodes, J., *Gowdy, G., *Stark, A., *Horn, J. P., *Parnes, M., Spencer, R. (2018). "I'm having a little struggle with this, can you help me out?": Examining impacts and processes of a social capital intervention for first-generation college students. American Journal of Community Psychology, 61(1-2), 166-178. DOI: 10.1002/ajcp.12206

Rhodes, J. E., Schwartz, S., Willis, M. M., Wu, M. B. (2017). Validating a mentoring relationship quality scale: Does match strength predict match length? Youth & Society, 49, 415-437.

Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J. (2016). From treatment to empowerment: New approaches to youth mentoring. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58, 150-157.

Schwartz, S., Kanchewa, S., Rhodes, J., Cutler, E., Cunningham, J. L. (2016). “I didn’t know you could just ask:” Empowering underrepresented college-bound students to recruit academic and career mentors. Children and Youth Services Review, 64, 51-59.

Suyemoto, K. L., Day, S., Schwartz, S. (2015). Exploring effects of social justice youth programming on racial and ethnic identities and activism for Asian American youth. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 6(2), 125.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Rhodes, J. E., Liang, B., Sánchez, B., Spencer, R., Kremer, S., & Kanchewa, S. (2014). Mentoring in the digital age: Social media use in adult-youth relationships. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 205-213.

Millenky, M., Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J. (2014). Supporting the transition to adulthood among high school dropouts: An impact study of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Prevention Science, 15(4), 448–459.

Schwartz, S., Chan, C., Rhodes, J., Scales, P. (2013). Community developmental assets and positive youth development: The role of natural mentors. Research in Human Development, 10(2), 141–162.

Schwartz, S., Suyemoto, K. (2013). Creating change from the inside: Youth development within a youth community organizing program. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(3), 341–358.

Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J., Spencer, R., Grossman, J. (2013). Youth initiated mentoring: Investigating a new approach to working with vulnerable adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52(1-2), 155–169

Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J., Chan, C., Herrera, C. (2011). The impact of school-based mentoring on youths with different relational profiles. Developmental Psychology, 47(2), 450.

Book Chapters

*Parnes, M., Schwartz, S. E. O., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., Singh, S. (in press). The role of instructor relationships in predicting academic outcomes among immigrant origin community college students. In Research on Immigrants in Community College. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Kanchewa, S. S., & Rhodes, J. E. (2017). Mentoring. In K. Peppler (Ed.) The Sage Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Kanchewa, S. S., Schwartz, S. E. O., & Rhodes, J. E. (2017). Mentoring disadvantaged youth. In D.A. Clutterbuck, F.K. Kochan, L. G., Lunsford, N. Dominguez, & J. Haddock-Millar (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rhodes, J., Lowe, S., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2011). Youth mentoring. In B. Brown & M. Prinstein (Eds), The Encyclopedia of Adolescence. Elsevier.

Current Graduate Students

I am a third year graduate student in Suffolk University's Clinical Psychology doctoral program. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, I graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a B.A. in Human Biology. My research interests are related to positive socioemotional development and help-seeking in adolescence.

Research Interests

Adolescent socio-emotional development; youth connectedness and positive development school- and community-based interventions; mental health stigma; youth mentoring

Recent Publications/Presentations:

Austin, L. J., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2018). Addressing Mental Health Stigma in Early Adolescence: Middle School Antistigma Interventions. Adolescent Research Review.

Schwartz, S.E.O., Christensen, K. M., & Austin, L. (In press). Empowerment Strategies and Youth Community Organizing. In Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan. 

Austin, L. J., Jarjoura, R., Herrera, C., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2019, June). Unique Mentoring Approaches to Supporting Youth. Poster Presented at the Society for Community Research and Action 2019 Biennial, Chicago, IL.

Austin, L. J., Browne, R., Parnes, M. F., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2019, May). Psychological Help- Seeking in a Diverse College Sample. Poster Presented at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Austin, L. J., Herrera, C., Jarjoura, R., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2019, May). Mentors Who Connect: The Impact of Mentoring Connecting Behaviors on Youth Relational Outcomes. Poster Presented at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Megan is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. She received her BA in Psychology at Framingham State University and her MS in Neuroscience & Education at Columbia University, Teachers College. Her master’s thesis examined the effects of PTSD and suicidal ideation on executive functioning in older adolescents. While in her master’s program, Megan worked as a Kindergarten science teacher in Harlem and as a research assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Prior to entering Suffolk’s PhD program, she worked as a clinical research coordinator at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research and clinical interests center on addressing ways to foster healthy developmental outcomes during adolescence. Specifically, she would like to work on mentoring interventions and trauma-informed care programs for underserved and underrepresented youth.

I am currently a doctoral student in Suffolk University's Clinical Psychology PhD program. I received an MSEd in Counseling and Mental Health from the University of Pennsylvania. My clinical and research interests are related to supporting positive development in underrepresented youth and developing interventions to promote youth access to social support. My current research focuses on understanding the impact of childhood trauma and environmental risk factors on youth mentoring relationships. I am also interested in exploring various pathways through which youth can access supportive relationships with caring adults.


Parnes, M.F., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., & Schwartz, S.E.O. (in press). The role of instructor relationships in predicting academic outcomes among community college students. Community College Review

Parnes, M.F., Bagrodia, R., Wightman, K., Sawhney, R.S., Satterthwaite, M.L., Knuckey, S., Bryant, R.A., & Brown, A.D. (2019). Access to support and post-traumatic stress among human rights advocates: The mediating roles of workplace culture and negative appraisals. Psychological Services. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/ser000359

Kramer, M.A., Ostrowski, L.M, Song, D.Y., Thorn, E.L., Stoyell, S.M., Parnes, M.F., Chinappen, D., Xiao, G, Eden, U., Staley, K.J., Stufflebeam, S.M., & Chu, C.J. (in press). Spike ripples in scalp electroencephalogram predict seizure risk in childhood epilepsy better than spikes. Brain.

Parnes, M.F., Schwartz, S.E.O., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., & Sukhami, S. The Role of Instructor Relationships in Predicting Academic Outcomes among Immigrant Origin Community College Students. In Research on Immigrants in Community College, forthcoming, Teacher’s College Press, 2019.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Kanchewa, S. S., Rhodes, J. E., Gowdy, G., Stark, A., Horn, J. P., Parnes, M., & Spencer, R. (2017). “I’m having a little struggle with this, can you help me out?”: A mixed methods examination of a social capital intervention for first-generation college students. American Journal of Community Psychology. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12206

Selected Presentations

Parnes, M.F., Monjaras-Gaytan, L.Y, Sánchez, B., & Schwartz, S.E.O. (2019, June). Natural Mentoring Relationships Among College Students: Do Shared Mentor-Mentee Identities Matter? Presented as part of E. Raposa (Chair) Social Support and Risk versus Resilience for College Students from Underrepresented Backgrounds. Symposium presented at Society for Community Research and Action.

Parnes, M.F., Bagrodia, R., Wightman, K., Satterthwaite, M., Knuckey, S., Bryant, R.A., Sawhney, R.S., Brown, A.D. (2019, May). Negative Self-Appraisals and Workplace Culture Mediate the Relationship between Access to Support and PTSD Symptoms in Human Rights Advocates. Poster accepted for presentation at 2019 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.

Parnes, M.F. & Schwartz, S.E.O. (2019, March). The impact of a brief help-seeking intervention on first-generation college students’ academic outcomes. Poster presented at 2019 Society for Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting, Baltimore, MD.

Interested in Joining the Lab?

Potential Graduate Students

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I find out whether Dr. Schwartz intends to take a student for the upcoming year?
A list of faculty accepting students is available on our departmental admission webpage.

Should I contact Dr. Schwartz directly to express my interest?
There is no need to contact me in advance of submitting your application to our graduate program. Unfortunately, given the volume of applicants to our program, I am unable to correspond with everyone who is interested.

What type of applicant are you looking for?
Generally, I am looking for students with strong academic credentials, outstanding letters of recommendation, solid research experience, and a personal statement that clearly articulates the way in which your specific interests match with my areas of expertise.

How can I find out more about the doctoral program?
We keep a tremendous amount of very useful information on our public webpage. I encourage you to read over our resources and manuals.


Suffolk Undergraduates Interested in Becoming Involved in Research

Psychology majors who are juniors or seniors and who have successfully completed the course in research methods can apply to take an Independent Study Course (PSYCH-510) for 1-4 credits. As part of this course, students become involved in ongoing research in the lab, thus, projects and responsibilities vary each semester. Please contact Dr. Schwartz if you are interested in exploring this possibility.