Youth Development in Context Lab

The Youth Development in Context Lab seeks to better understand the ways that community, school, peer, and family settings combine to shape child and adolescent development.

With a special focus on cultural contexts of development, our research covers topics such as the effects of discrimination on socioemotional development, interethnic group social preferences, bicultural identity development, and school attitudes and outcomes among diverse groups of immigrant youth in the US. In addition to the studies housed at Suffolk, our research team maintains strong collaborations with researchers across the country and in Puerto Rico.

Amy Marks, PhD

To learn more about Dr. Amy Marks and her work, please visit her faculty page.

References & Materials

On this page you will find a list of recent publications with links, whenever possible, to help you locate research content. Please feel free to contact Amy Marks (PI) for copies of articles, conference presentations, or any of the research materials/instruments used in our studies.

Books

Suarez-Orozco, C., Abo-Zena, M., & Marks, A.K. (2015). Transitions: The Development of Immigrant Children. New York: NYU Press.

García Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2011). The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is becoming American a developmental risk? Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

García Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2009). Immigrant stories: Ethnicity and academics in middle childhood. New York: Oxford University Press.

More Publications

Marks, A. K., Woolverton, G. A., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). Children’s migratory paths between cultures: The effects of immigration patterns on the adaptation of children and families. In R. D. Parke & G. H. Elder (Eds.), Children in Changing Worlds: Sociocultural and Temporal Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Marks, A. K., Lindsey, S. V., & Garcia Coll, C. (2019). Prejudice and Discrimination. In S. Hupp & J. Jewell (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development: Volume on Child Emotion. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell.

Suarez-Orozco, C., & Marks, A. K. (2016). Immigrant students in the U.S.: Addressing their possibilities and challenges. In J. Banks, M. Suarez-Orozco, & M. Ben Perez (Eds.), Global Migration, Diversity, & Civic Education. (pp. 107-131) New York: Teacher’s College Press.

Suarez-Orozco, C., Marks, A. K., & Abo-Zena, M. (2015). Unique and shared experiences of immigrant-origin children and youth. In C. Suarez-Orozco, M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The Development of Children of Immigrants. (pp. 1-26) New York: NYU Press.

Marks, A. K., & Pieloch, K. (2015). The school contexts of U.S. immigrant children and adolescents. In C.

Suarez-Orozco, M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The Development of Children of Immigrants. (pp. 47-60) New York: NYU Press.

Bedard-Thomas, K. K., McKenna, J. L., Pantalone, D.W., Fireman, G., & Marks, A. K. (2019). A mixed-methods measurement study of female adolescent sexuality stress and support. Psychology & Sexuality. DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2019.1596972

Marks, A.K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). Education and developmental competencies of ethnic minority children: Recent theoretical and methodological advances. Developmental Review, 50, 90-98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2018.05.004

Suarez-Orozco, C., Motti-Stefanidi, F., Marks, A.K., & Katsiaficas, D. (2018). An integrative risk and resilience model for understanding the development and adaptation of immigrant origin children and youth. American Psychologist, 73(6), 781-796. DOI: 10.1037/amp0000265

Marks, A. K., McKenna, J., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). National receiving contexts: A critical aspect of native-born, immigrant, and refugee youth well-being. European Psychologist, 23(1), 6-20. DOI: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000311

Pieloch, K. A., Marks, A. K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). A person-centered exploration of children of immigrants’ social experiences and their school-based well-being. Applied Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2016.1225500

Conn, B. M., & Marks, A. K. (2017). An ecological approach to understanding adolescent prescription drug misuse. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(2), 183-204. DOI: 10.1177/0743558415589369

Pieloch, K. A., McCullough, M. B., & Marks, A. K. (2016). Resilience of children with refugee statuses: A research review. Canadian Psychology. 57(4).

Interested in joining the lab?

If you are an undergraduate seeking a volunteer or independent research experience (Psych 510), please email Dr. Amy Marks directly

Current Graduate Students

Samantha Jane Benavidez-Walsh

I am a second year PhD student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program at Suffolk University. I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of the Philippines and got my M.A. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College. My work as a Guidance Counselor for middle school students, as well as interning at the Center for Teen Empowerment in Somerville led to my interest in working with youth and studying positive youth development. Right now, I am working on a project with Families First to evaluate their Power of Parenting program through visual data. I eventually want to explore the perpetuation of colorism in society through media and social media, and how this affects the development of adolescent Filipinos.

Research Interests

Child and adolescent development, positive youth development, media, social media, colorism

Publications and presentations

Suzuki, S., Benavidez, S.J., Quinn, S., Gill, S., Fu, Y., Worg, C., Rojas, A.G., Johnson, S., & Lerner, J. (2018, October). Youth contribution: Relations between youth’s activity participation and their life goals. Poster session presented at the Society for Research in Child Development special topic meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Quema, P., Ventosa, A.R., Benavidez, S.J., & Batican, A.A.M. (2013, February). Ina, anak, apo: How prior experience influences a mother’s view of her adolescent daughter’s pregnancy. Paper presented at PSYnergy 7, Manila, Philippines.

Profile Picture of Rose Luehrs

I am a fourth year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk. I am originally from Illinois where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology before going on to receive a terminal master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. After working as an outpatient clinician in a community mental health center for one year I decided to continue my graduate education and moved to Boston to begin my doctoral training at Suffolk. Since being at Suffolk I have channeled my research efforts into understanding different patterns of adaptation following trauma. I completed my first practicum experience of the program at McLean Hospital’s OCD-Institute where I gained experience and comfort administering various assessments, writing integrated reports, and coaching exposure and response/ritual prevention sessions. For my second practicum experience I provided outpatient therapy using manualized CBT treatment to treat a range of anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Additionally, I began working as a blinded study assessor on a clinical trial at the Boston VA where I received intensive training on administering gold-standard PTSD assessments to a veteran population. In my fourth year, I am continuing to work as a study assessor at the VA Hospital, and have also begun an advanced practicum training at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Depression and Clinical Research Program (DCRP). At the DCRP I am gaining experience providing CBT to individuals who have moderate–severe traumatic brain injuries, as well as furthering my experience as a trained study assessor on various ongoing projects.

Research Interests

My research interests broadly involve studying reactions to trauma. More recently, clinical experiences have informed a more specific research interest regarding the relationship between trauma, PTSD and OCD. I am particularly interested in using mixed methods to evaluate questions related to trauma and functioning in treatment-seeking individuals.

Publications & Presentations (most recent)

Zelechoski, A. D., Buckman, H., Luehrs, R., Freedle, A., Bruick, S., Harrison, K., Hayrynen, A., Hrebic, L.,
Dibley, E., & Will, K (in press). Trauma assessment in juvenile justice: Are we asking the right questions in the right ways? Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma.

Luehrs, R. E., Camargo, T., Woolverton, G. A., & Marks, A. K. (2020, November). A mixed methods investigation of trauma exposure and resilience in legally vulnerable immigrants in the U.S. Flash talk to be presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 36th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Luehrs, R. E., McCaughey, V. K., & Marks, A. K. (2020, November). Associations between lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive symptomatology: Evidence from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Poster to be presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 54th Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA.

Luehrs, R. E., Suvak, M. K., Shayani, D., & Iverson, K. M. (2019, November). Hope and self-efficacy as moderators of the relationship between intimate partner violence and posttraumatic stress disorder. Poster presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 35th Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Luehrs, R. E., Alvarez, V. A., Musicaro, R. M., Lord, K. A., & Suvak, M. K. (2019, August). The factor structure and construct validity of the compassionate and self-Image goals scale. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention. Chicago, IL.

Luehrs, R., Grillo, A., Danitz, S., Suvak, M., & Iverson, K. (2018, November). Hope and self-efficacy as predictors of PTSD symptoms in a sample of women veterans. Poster presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 34th Annual Meeting, Washington, D. C.

Gorman, O., Schmidt, S., Luehrs, R., McIntyre, C., & Zelechoski, A. (2017, March). An exploration of the relationship between trauma exposure and juvenile recidivism. Poster presented at the AP-LS Annual Conference, Seattle, WA.

I am a third-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Seattle, WA, where I pursued my B.A. in Medical Anthropology and Global Health at the University of Washington. After completing my undergraduate degree, I was an AmeriCorps service member for Communities In Schools of Kent at a Title-1 middle school for a year and was subsequently hired on as full time staff for three years. My responsibilities ranged from case management and behavioral interventions to school wide program implementation. During this time, I further developed my passion for working with youth and serving under resourced and marginalized communities. Mental health emerged as a key common thread for the youth and families that I worked with, which in turn prompted my interest in pursuing a clinical psychology doctoral program. My first clinical training placement was at Suffolk University’s Counseling Center, where I developed foundational skills in individual therapy with undergraduate and graduate students. . My second and current clinical practicum placement is at Brown University, Bradley Hospital Adolescent Inpatient Unit. My Master’s thesis utilized a person-centered lens to explore how ethnic-racial identity, coping, and mindfulness factors differentiate students into meaningful profiles of adjustment amongst a diverse population of incoming college freshman. 

Research Interests

Risk and resilience factors, community-participatory based research approaches, anti-racist research, positive youth development, developmental impacts of oppression, ethnic-racial identity, restorative justice and reparative practices, education, child and adolescent identity development, mixed-methods research.

Publications

Marks, A. K. Woolverton, G. A. & Murry, M. D. (In Press). Xenophobia and racism: immigrant youth experiences, stress & resilience. To appear in: Tummala-Narra, P (Eds.), Racial Minority Immigrants and Trauma in the United States. American Psychological Association Division 45, APA Books.

Veloira, C., Bussu, A., & Murry, M. D. (2020). The Transformative Possibilities of Restorative Approaches to Education. In Intercultural Education: Critical Perspectives, Pedagogical Challenges and Promising Practices (pp. 298). Nova Science Publishers.

Giray, C., Diaz, G., Gallagher, N., Lee, R., Marks, A.K., Martinez, M. I., Murry, M.D., Ramos, Z., Roberg, R., Camacho-Thompson, D., Wollman, N., & Zhang, L. (April 24, 2020). Mitigating the implications of Coronavirus pandemic on families.Research to Policy Collaboration Newsletter,Issue 6.https://www.research2policy.org/covid19-mitigating-the-implications-6

Research Presentation & Abstracts

Murry, M. D., Marks, A. K. (April, 2020-cancelled).Adapting to College: Exploration of psychological well-being, coping, and identity as markers of readiness.Poster Presentation at the International Conference on Applied Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Boston, MA.

Murry, M.D., Harkins, D., Williams, M., Pottinger, K., Viquez-Salas, A. (March, 2019). Stakeholders Voices in Service Learning. Workshop Presentation at Eastern Region Campus Compact Conference, Providence, RI.

Regina Roberg

I am a third-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois and have been living in the Boston area since 2013. I attended Brandeis University, where I majored in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, with minors in International Global Studies and Legal Studies. During college I was a research assistant in Brandeis University’s Memory and Cognition Lab and at Massachusetts General Hospital’s OCD & Related Disorders Program. After college I worked as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical and Research Program, where I coordinated treatment studies for English and Spanish-speaking adults with Major Depressive Disorder. This experience further strengthened my interest in parent-child mental health, with a particular interest in the role of context, psychological flexibility, and meaning-making in influencing family wellbeing. My Master’s project examined the psychosocial impact of legal vulnerability in immigrant families using an exploratory person-centered, mixed-methods approach. I completed my first clinical training placement at the New England Center for OCD & Anxiety (NECOA), where I gained foundational skills in delivering CBT/ACT interventions with children, adolescents, and adults with OCD and anxiety disorders. My second and current practicum placement is at Brown University’s Bradley Hospital Pediatric Anxiety and Research Center (PARC) where I am receiving specialized training in the assessment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive spectrum, and others with children and adolescents.

Research Interests

Parent-child mental health, immigrant family mental health, psychological flexibility, resilience resources, and transgenerational trauma.

Publications

Marks, A.K., Roberg, R., Luehrs, R., García Coll, C. (in press). Peace across cultures: Understanding children’s traumatic migration experiences and pathways of healing. In L. Miller-Graff & S. Moeschberger (Eds.), Building cultures of peace: Psychological perspectives on understanding and addressing violence against children, Oxford University Press.

Nyer, M., O’Hair, C., Hopkins, L., Roberg, R., Norton, R., Streeter, C. (in press). Yoga as a Treatment for Depression: Applications for Mental Health Practitioners. Special Issue on Adjunctive, Integrative Health Therapies for Depression for Psychiatry Annals.

 Nyer, M., Roberg, R., Nauphal, M., Streeter, C. (in press). Yoga for the treatment of depression. In B. Shapero, D. Mischoulon & C. Cusin (Eds.), The Massachusetts General Hospital Guide to Depression. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Roberg, R., Evans, C., Kniskern, R., Nguyen, V., Smith, J., & Marks, A.K. (2021). Mitigating COVID-19 Vaccination Disparities in Communities of Color. Research to Policy Collaboration, Washington DC.

Displaced Persons Task Force (2020). COVID-19, immigration status, and child and family wellbeing. Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice.

Giray, C., Diaz, G., Gallagher, N., Lee, R., Marks, A.K., Martinez, M. I., Murry, M., Ramos, Z., Roberg, R., Camacho-Thompson, D., Wollman, N., & Zhang, L. (2020). Mitigating the implications of Coronavirus pandemic on families. Research to Policy Collaboration Newsletter, Issue 6. https://www.research2policy.org/covid19-mitigating-the-implications-6

Roberg, R. Murry, M. Ramos, Z., Zhang, L., & Marks, A. K. (2020). What we know about the social and emotional impacts of COVID-19 on immigrant families. Research to Policy Collaboration, Washington DC.

Roberg, R., Zhang, L., Marks, A. K., Murry, M. &Ramos, Z., Giray, C., Gay, B., Jaffe, G., Garcia-Rodriguez, I., and the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice Migrants and Displaced Persons Task Force (2020). COVID-19’s Impact on immigrant communities: Facts at a glance. Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice.

Zhang, L., Marks, A. K., Roberg, R., Murry, M. & Ramos, Z. (2020). While COVID-19 does not discriminate, immigration status does determine families’ and children’s health and well-being. Research to Policy Collaboration, Washington DC.

Zhang, L., Marks, A. K., Roberg, R., Murry, M. & Ramos, Z., Giray, C., Gay, B., Jaffe, G., Garcia-Rodriguez, I., and the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice Migrants and

Nyer, M., Nauphal, M., Roberg, R., Streeter, C. (2017). Applications of Yoga in Psychiatry: What We Know. American Psychiatric Association: Focus

Roberg, R. (2016) An Outsider Welcomed in: Examining the Intersections of Trust in Argentina's Public Mental Health Care System and in Everyday Encounters. International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life. 

Research Presentations

Roberg, R. (2021). Understanding Autism from a Community Perspective. Invited talk at the New England Center for OCD & Anxiety, Boston, MA.

Roberg, R., Camargo, T., Garcia-Rodriguez, I., Marks, A.K. (2021) A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Legal Liminality’s Psychological Impact on Immigrant Parent Mental Health and Well-Being. To be presented at the 2021 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Minneapolis, MN.

Dean, T., Roberg, R., Wexler, D., Mischoulon, D., Cassano, P., Chen, J., Trinh, N., Yeung, A., Chang, T. (2018). Challenges in Recruitment of Spanish-Speaking Community Samples with Type 2 Diabetes for Behavior Change Intervention. Poster presented at the MGH Division of Public and Community Psychiatry Symposium, Boston, MA

Roberg, R., Dean, T., Wexler, D., Mischoulon, D., Cassano, P., Chen, J., Trinh, N., Yeung, A., Chang, T. (2018) Effectiveness of a group intervention to improve diabetes-related distress and diabetes self-care behaviors in Spanish-speaking patients with Type 2 diabetes in the community. Poster presented at the 2018 Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.

Roberg, R., Shapero, B.G. (2018) Childhood Trauma and Depression: The Mediating Role of Stress Generation. Poster presented at the 2018 Anxiety and Depression Association of America Conference, Washington, D.C.

Roberg, R., Shapero, B. G. (2018) The Psychophysiology of Cognitive Control in Emotional Regulation: The Preliminary Relationship Between Depression Severity and Heart Rate Change. Poster presented at the 2018 Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Research Day, Boston, MA.

Community Presentation

Roberg, R., McCaughey, V.K., Mathew, L., Orsillo, S.  (2020). Befriending Challenging Emotions. Employee Behavioral Health and Well-Being Series, Massachusetts Port Authority, Boston, MA.

Alice is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Suffolk University. She is originally from Newton, MA and graduated with a B.A. in English from Amherst College and an M.S. in Medical Sciences with a concentration in mental health counseling and behavioral neuroscience from Boston University. Prior to beginning her Ph.D. at Suffolk, she worked as a clinical research specialist in Boston Children's Hospital's Adolescent Medicine division, where she learned qualitative research skills and studied experiences of transgender teens and youth with eating disorders. Her Master's project at Suffolk explored how high school students of color and white students described their ethnicity/race and experienced their ethnic-racial identities, including feelings of pride and experiences of discrimination, at school. Her dissertation is a feasibility study of an anti-racist training program for white caregiver-child dyads.

Her first clinical training placement was in Suffolk's Counseling Center where she gained skills as an individual therapist working with undergraduate and graduate students. Her second clinical training placement was at Angier Elementary School, where she gained individual and group therapeutic skills, as well as assessment experience. Her first advanced practicum training placement was at Tufts Medical Center in outpatient psychiatry, where she worked in the trauma, anxiety/mood, ADHD, and neuropsychological assessment clinics. This year, her advanced practica are at Child Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD), where she treats anxiety disorders using CBT, and Concord Comprehensive Neuropsychological Associates.

Research Interests: Critical race theory, anti-racist research, whiteness studies, child and adolescent identity development, ethnic-racial identity, racial socialization processes, risk and resilience factors, gender identity, mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Publications & Presentations

Marks, A. K. Woolverton, G. A. & Murry, M. D. (2021). Xenophobia and racism: immigrant youth experiences, stress & resilience. To appear in: Tummala-Narra, P (Eds.), Racial Minority Immigrants and Trauma in the United States. American Psychological Association Division 45, APA Books.

Woolverton, G. A., & Marks, A. K. (2021). A mixed-methods school-based exploration of diverse adolescents’ ethnic/racial identities and related academic and interpersonal experiences [Individual flash talk]. Society for Research in Child Development’s 2021 Biennial Meeting, Virtual.

Woolverton, G. A. & Marks, A. K. (2021). “I just check ‘other’”: Evidence to support expanding the measurement inclusivity and equity of ethnicity/race and cultural identifications of U.S. adolescents.” Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, Special Issue: Innovative Theory and Methods for the Next Generation of Diversity and Inclusion Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000360

Woolverton, G. A. & Pollastri, A. R. (2021). An exploration and critical examination of how “intelligent classroom technologies” can improve specific uses of direct student behavior observation methods. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1111/emip.12421

Marks, A. K. Woolverton, G. A. & García Coll, C. (2020). Risk and resilience in minority youth populations. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 16, 151-163. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-071119- 115839

Richmond, T. K., Woolverton, G. A., Mammel, K., Ornstein, R. M., Spalding, A. L., Woods, E. R, & Forman, S. F. (2020). How do you define recovery? A qualitative study of patients with eating disorders, their parents, and clinicians. International Journal of Eating Disorders. doi: 10.1002/eat.23294

Woolverton, G. A., Kawai, P. L., & Marks, A. K. (2020) “There isn’t anything interesting about White:” Exploring diverse adolescents’ ethnic/racial identity school-based experiences. Poster to be presented at Society for Research in Child Development’s Construction of the ‘Other’: Development, Consequences, and Applied Implications of Prejudice and Discrimination Special Topic Meeting, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

Guss, C. E., Woolverton, G. A., Borus, J., Austin, S. B., Reisner, S. L., & Katz-Wise, S. L. (2019). Transgender Adolescents' Experiences in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Adolescent Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.03.009

Marks, A. K, Woolverton, G. A., & García Coll, C. (2019). Children’s migratory paths between cultures: The effects of migration experiences on the adjustment of children and families. In Parke, R. D. & Elder, G. H. Children in Changing Worlds: Socio-Cultural and Temporal Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.

Woolverton, G. A., Kawai, P.L., & Marks, A.K. (2019). A mixed-methods exploration of adolescents’ cultural and ethnicity/race identifications with open-ended and check-box assessments. Poster session presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Study of Human Development, Portland, OR.

Woolverton, G. A., Cantor, A., Berghuis, J., Estela, M. L., Evans, W. E., Sonneville, K., & Richmond, T. K. (2018). How to counsel adolescent patients regarding weight-related outcomes and behaviors with minimal harm. Poster session presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN.

Guss, C. E., Woolverton, G. A., Borus, J., Reisner, S. L., Austin, S. B, & Katz-Wise, S. L. (2017). “Just Step Up:” Transgender Adolescents’ Experiences in Primary Care, a Qualitative Study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(2), S28-S29. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.10.074.

Richmond, T. K., Woolverton, G. A., Spalding, A. L., Mammel, K., Ornstein, R., Rome, E., Woods, E., Kennedy, G., & Forman, S.F. (2017). Defining Recovery: a qualitative study of patients with eating disorders, their parents and clinicians. Poster session presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference on Eating Disorders, Prague, Czech Republic.

Woolverton, G. A., Spalding, A. L., Warikoo, N. K, Dunn, E. C, & Richmond, T. K. (2016). Body Shape and Size Concerns and Diet Culture in Urban Adolescents Attending Suburban High Schools. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(2), S63. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.10.138

I am a first year PhD student in the Applied Development Psychology program at Suffolk University. A native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, my research interests have been influenced by my work and family experiences.

I began my career in 2007 at Boston University’s African Presidential Archives & Research Center (APARC), where I stewarded a collaborative that brought together college students from HBCUs in the US with their peers from Africa-based universities. Most were first generation college students who experienced their first opportunity to travel outside the US in the program. It was there that I first saw the power of education to transform, uplift, and inspire.

I also worked with College Bound Dorchester, a dynamic organization that works to ensure Dorchester’s residents are college bound. Most recently, I supported the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, an organization established to fight for fairness and justice in the community. Both experiences fostered a passion in me to support underserved and marginalized groups.
In 2014, I welcomed my beautiful daughter Journee to the world. She inspired me to pursue my ALB from Harvard Extension School, and, as a first-time parent of a child with special needs, I learned first-hand the difficulties that families and parents experience in navigating healthcare, education, and socioeconomic challenges when raising children with individualized needs. These experiences led me to be an advocate for parents and children with physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

Research interests

at-risk youth; adolescent development; social justice; marginalized and underserved minority communities (in particular, those with special needs); family advocacy and support; individualized education plans

Current Research Projects

Developing a positive sense of one’s self is one of the fundamental psychological tasks of the developing child. For ethnic and/or racial multicultural or minority youth, developing health ethnic/racial identities (how you experience and understand yourself as a member of a particular ethnic or racial group) is of central importance to the child’s health. This course of research aims to contribute to both process and content research on ethnic identity development from childhood through emerging adulthood. We have a particular interest in bicultural and multicultural youth, as well as conducting mixed methods work in this area. Our studies have combined experimental, implicit, psychophysiological, longitudinal, and qualitative approaches to this important topic.

From our studies, supported in part by the National Science Foundation, we are learning more about emerging ethnic identity in middle childhood, how bicultural adolescents and young adults form their ethnic/racial identities in the school context, and how other important psychological processes like attachment, overall identity development, and psychological flexibility inform healthy ethnic identities during emerging adulthood.

Would you find it surprising to learn that some of the most high-achieving and healthiest members of the U.S.’s childhood population are also its newest members? The immigrant paradox is a population-level phenomenon in which newly-immigrated children and adolescents – who typically have fewer family economic resources than children born in the U.S. – tend to have better health or academic success than their wealthier, more highly acculturated (or native born) peers. This pattern has been coined a “paradox” because researchers usually observe that poverty leads to poor health, and because many decades ago scholars used to believe that fully acculturating to the U.S. (i.e., becoming “more American”, speaking English without an accent, etc.), meant that families and children should be healthier and more successful. Mounting research evidence starting predominantly during the 1980’s is challenging these traditional notions, and showing that many different groups of newly-immigrated children and adolescents are thriving. In our own research we find that newcomer immigrant youth are oftentimes doing better in school, having fewer pregnancies, and experience fewer delinquency problems than their U.S. born peers from similar ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In the spring of 2007 we began a course of research funded in part by the W.T. Grant Foundation and the Jacobs Foundation, which seeks to understand the contextual factors underlying the immigrant paradox in health, behavior and educational/occupational outcomes. Results from this collaborative study have led to numerous presentations and publications, including a recently released co-edited volume from APA Press entitled The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is becoming American a developmental risk? We also just released a new paper in European Psychologist examining paradox-like patterns in nations outside the U.S.

Did you know that adolescents who feel discriminated against are more likely to be obese, start smoking at a young age, and experience a multitude of behavioral and mental health problems? From depression to low self-esteem to the general mistrust of others, experiencing discrimination can have a profound impact on children’s well-being. As such, another central series of studies in our group focuses on the impact of discrimination for children and adolescent’s development. Although many researchers have long noted the harmful effects of discrimination for adult health and happiness, researchers are only recently beginning to understand the various impacts discrimination has on the developing child. Our work in this area started with a recent systematic review of the literature – part of the Handbook of Child Psychology published by Wiley – and is continuing with several new studies in progress as a result.