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, with the goal of advancing social, economic, and environmental justice.

Sarah Schwartz, PhD

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

Current Research Projects

The Adolescent Connectedness and Empowerment Lab, strives to conduct research that recognizes the need for relationships and contexts that both allow youth to feel supported by adults and make space for youth to take the lead in advocating for themselves and their communities. 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. Some current projects include:

  1. A grant-funded mixed methods longitudinal evaluation of an intervention designed to develop help-seeking skills and encourage students to cultivate mentoring relationships and social capital during the transition to college. In addition to the impact study, students in the lab are using this dataset to look at other research questions related to experiences of discrimination, mental health symptoms, self-compassion, and values-based living, to name a few.
  2. Studies of formal and informal mentoring relationships, positive youth development, and youth community organizing in community-based programs both through local collaborations and secondary data analysis drawing on nationally representative datasets.
  3. Quantitative and qualitative studies of mental health stigma and psychological help-seeking among adolescents and adults, with a focus on barriers to treatment particularly among marginalized and oppressed populations.
  4. Studies on climate change anxiety, hope, and activism among youth and emerging adults.

References and Materials

*Denotes graduate student author

Monjaras-Gaytan, L.*, Sánchez, B., Salusky, I., Schwartz, S. (in press). Historically underrepresented college students and institutional natural mentors: An ecological analysis of the development of these relatinoships at predominantly White institutions. Journal of Community Psychology.

Weiler, L., Lee, S., Zhang, J., Ausherbauer, K. Schwartz, S., Kanchewa, S., Taussig, H. (in press). Mentoring children in foster care: Examining relationship histories as moderators of intervention impact on children’s mental health and trauma symptoms. American Journal of Community Psychology.

Kanchewa, S., Christensen, K.*, Poon, C.,* Parnes, M.*, & Schwartz S. (in press). More than fun and games?: Understanding the role of school-based mentor-mentee match activity profiles in relationship processes and outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review.

Van Dam, L., Blom, D., Kara, E., Assink, M., Stams, G. J. J. M., S. E. O. Schwartz, & Rhodes, J. (in press). A meta-analytic study on a novel hybrid approach in mentoring for youth with complex needs. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Weber Ku, E.*, Hagler, M.*, Parnes, M.*, Schwartz, S. E. O., Rhodes, J. E. (in press). Natural mentoring relationships among survivors of caregiver childhood abuse: Findings from the Add Health Longitudinal Study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Austin, L.*, Parnes, M.*, Jarjoura, R., Keller, T., Herrera, C., Tanyu, M., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020). The role of mentoring approach in youth connectedness outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(12), 2409-2428.

Parnes, M.*, Kanchewa, S., Marks, A., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020). Closing the college achievement gap: Impacts and processes of a help-seeking intervention. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 67, 101121.

*Parnes, M., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., Schwartz, S. (2020). 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

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.

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.

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.

*Denotes graduate student author

Schwartz, S. E. O., Parnes, M. F.*, Austin, L. J.*, & Browne, R.* (Accepted). New Approaches to Empower Youth to Recruit Mentors in the United States. In Prieto-Flores, O. and Feu, J. (Eds.) Mentoring Children and Young People for Social Inclusion: Global Approaches to Empowerment. Routledge.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Christensen, K. M.*, & Austin, L. J.* (2020). Empowerment Strategies and Youth Community Organizing. In Geffner, R., Vieth, V., Vaughan-Eden, V., Rosenbaum, A., Hamberger, L., & White J. (Eds.) Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan. Springer International Publishing.

*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

Profile Picture of Laura AustinLaura is a fifth year clinical psychology doctoral candidate in the ACE lab. She graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a B.A. in Human Biology and a minor in Psychology. Both her clinical and research interests center on supporting youth development. More specifically, her current research focuses on connection and help-seeking in adolescence. Laura is currently a practicum student at the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health and Concord Comprehensive Neuropsychological Services. Please feel free to reach out to via email.

Research Interests

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

Selected Publications/Presentations:

Austin, L. J., Browne, R.K., Carreiro, M., Khreizat, I., DeJonckheere, M., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (In preparation). “It makes them want to suffer in silence rather than risk facing ridicule”: Youth perspectives on mental health stigma.

Austin, L. J., & Browne, R. K., Carreiro, M., Khreizat, I., DeJonckheere, M., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2021, April). Youth experiences of Mental Health Stigma. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development 2021 Virtual Biennial Meeting.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Parnes, M. F., Austin, L. J., & Browne, R. (In Press). New Approaches to Empower Youth to Recruit Mentors. In Mentoring Children and Youth at-risk: Global Approaches to Empowerment.

Schwartz, S. E. O., Christensen, K. M., & Austin, L. J. (2021). Empowerment Strategies and Youth Community Organizing. In R. Geffner, J. W. White, L. K. Hamberger, A. Rosenbaum, V. Vaughan-Eden, V. I. Vieth (Eds.), Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan: A project of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV). New York, NY: Springer Nature, Cham.

Austin, L. J., Parnes, M. F., Jarjoura, G. R., Keller, T. E., Herrera, C., Tanyu, M., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020). Connecting Youth: The Role of Mentoring Approach. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(12), 2409-2428. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01320-z

Schwartz, S., Parnes, M., Austin, L., & Browne, R. (2020). New approaches to empower youth to recruit mentors in the United States. In Ò. Pietro-Flores, & J. Feu (Eds.), Mentoring Children and Young People for Social Inclusion (pp. 47-63). New York, NY: Routledge.

Austin, L. J., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020, November). Asking for Help: Predictors and Barriers to Psychological Help-Seeking in a Diverse College Sample. Poster accepted presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 54th Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA.

Schwartz, S., Parnes, M., Austin, L., & Browne, R. (2020). New approaches to empower youth to recruit mentors in the United States. In Ò. Pietro-Flores, & J. Feu (Eds.), Mentoring Children and Young People for Social Inclusion (pp. 47-63). New York, NY: Routledge.

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

Austin, L. J., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2019). Addressing Mental Health Stigma in Early Adolescence: Middle School Antistigma Interventions. Adolescent Research Review, 4, 223-233.

I am currently a doctoral student in Suffolk University’s PhD program. I graduated with my B.S. in Psychology from Northeastern University in 2014. My research interests are related to fostering positive youth development and resiliency, particularly in underrepresented youth. I am also interested in the various pathways through which community-based interventions help reduce mental health symptoms and concerns in youth.

Recent Conference Presentations

Browne, R.K. & Schwartz, S. E. O. (June, 2020). Predictors of Loneliness in a Diverse College Sample. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.

Browne, R. K., Parnes, M.F., Austin, L.J., Carreiro, M., & Schwartz, S.E.O. (May, 2020). Associations Between Social Capital, First-Generation College Student Status, and Depressive Symptoms in a Diverse College Sample. Symposium accepted at the Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.

Browne, R.K., Jarjoura, R., Herrera, C., Tanyu, M., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (March, 2020). Associations Between Mentoring Relationships and Youth Mental Health. Poster accepted at the Society for Research on Adolescents Biannual Conference, San Diego, CA.

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

Profile Picture of Megan Carreiro

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.

LaGriff is a second year graduate student in Suffolk University’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program. They graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology. While enrolled in their first year at Suffolk, they completed an M.S. in Psychology at ULL in 2020. LaGriff grew up in Southern Louisiana. They spent 3 years prior to Suffolk traveling and exploring the West Coast, throwing pies and walking dogs, all while remotely completing a Master’s thesis. They make a mean pizza, love hiking, backpacking, and exploring different foods and cultures. LaGriff has a big heart for humanity and helping folks thrive!

Research Interests

Accessible intervention-based approaches for Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM), Acceptance and Commitment Training, mindfulness and acceptance-based therapeutic approaches to alleviate the effects of felt and enacted stigma, psychological flexibility, GSM-related stigma and well-being

Presentations

Griffin, L. E., & Sandoz, E. K.  (2014, June). Back to life: Psychological inflexibility and recidivism among criminal offenders. Presentation at the Louisiana Psychological Association Conference, Louisiana.

Griffin, L. E., & Sandoz, E. K.  (2015, March). Seeing past sexuality: Psychological Inflexibility, LGBTQ stigma, and responsiveness to education-based stigma. Presentation at the Southeastern Association for Contextual Behavioral Science Conference, Louisiana.

Griffin, L. E., & Sandoz, E. K.  (2016, June). Stigma in Context: Psychological distress and coping styles of gender and sexual minorities. Poster at the ACBS World Conference, Washington.

Griffin, L. E., & Sandoz, E. K.  (2017, March). Overcoming stigma: A values-based intervention for GSM individuals who have experienced stigma and discrimination. Presentation at the Advances in Evidence-Based Psychotherapy for Gender and Sexual Minorities, California.

Griffin, L. E., & Sandoz, E. K.  (2019). Overcoming Stigma: A values-based intervention for GSM individuals who have experienced stigma and discrimination. Presentation at the ACBS World Conference, Ireland.

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 for youth who face greater social and structural barriers. I am also interested in developing and evaluating interventions that may promote youth access to social support. My current research focuses on understanding the impact of adversity during childhood on outcomes in adulthood and how mentoring/caregiver relationships may account for these associations.

Publications

Parnes, M. F., Kanchewa, S., Marks, A.K., & Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020). Closing the college achievement gap: Impacts and processes of a help-seeking intervention. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 67, 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101121

Parnes, M. F., Suárez-Orozco, C., Osei-Twumasi, O., & Schwartz, S.E.O. (2020). The role of instructor relationships in predicting academic outcomes among community college students. Community College Review, 48(3) 277-302. doi: 10.1177/0091552120909908

Weber Ku, E. B., Hagler, M., Parnes, M. F., Schwartz, S. E. O., Rhodes, J., Erickson, L. (2020). Natural mentoring relationships among survivors of caregiver childhood abuse: Findings from the Add Health Longitudinal Study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1-17. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14313

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., Boals, A. D., Brown, A. D., Eubank, J. (2020, May). A Latent Profile Analysis of Heterogeneity in Temporal Self-Appraisals Following Trauma Exposure. Poster presented virtually at Association for Psychological Science.

Parnes, M. F., Jarjoura, G. R., Tanyu, M., Herrera, C., Schwartz, S. E. O. (2020, March) Parent Engagement and Mentoring Relationship Processes Mediate the Association Between Youth Risk and Mental Health Outcomes. Symposium accepted at 2020 Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Conference, San Diego, CA.

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. & 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?

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. 

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.