Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

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Where Are They Now?

Chelsea Dudley (Psychology, '16)

Chelsea DudleyDudley is currently completing her second year as a clinical psychology doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For the first year of the program, she worked on the Child and Adolescent Traumatic Stress Program (CATSP) research team in addition to her coursework. Dudley started her first 12-month clinical practicum placement in August 2018 at NSU’s CATSP clinic.

“Through this training, I’ve gained direct experience working with children and adolescents, aged five to 15, who have various trauma or abuse histories. I provide individual and family therapy for clients and incorporate various treatments into my sessions, including psychodynamic play therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. I will begin my second practicum placement this August at Faulk Center for Counseling in Boca Raton, Florida, which will afford me the opportunity to gain training and experience running group therapy for all ages in addition to continuing my training in individual therapy. This summer I will be taking an international psychology course that includes an outreach humanitarian trip to Swaziland, South Africa, to provide psychological services to underserved populations.”

Dudley has also been active in student-run organizations this past year. She serves on the board for the Graduate Organization for Partnerships and Learning with Adolescents and Youths (GO PLAY) as well as Nova Students for the Prevention and Intervention of Suicide and Response to Emergencies (NSPIRE). As part of GO PLAY, Dudley volunteers at a child and family weekend bereavement camp. This opportunity has transformed into helping conduct a research project with other students to measure the effectiveness of grief camps in children’s and families’ coping as well as feelings of competency in working with clients experiencing grief among graduate student volunteers at camp.

“Through Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy, I benefited from the required fieldwork internships that ultimately developed my interest in working with children who have experienced abuse and/or trauma. After my internship with Martha’s Place Children’s Center, I decided to base my senior project on comparing the effectiveness of various treatment options for abused and neglected children and their families. I have been able to directly apply concepts from my senior project to my clinical training in CATSP this year. While I continue my doctoral program in Florida, I will forever be thankful for my training and the mentoring I received at Cal Poly.”

Gretchen Gilman (Child Development, ’14)

Gretchen GilmanGilman has been teaching in Asia and the Middle East for the past five years. She's enjoyed the chance to learn more about different cultures and how family values and beliefs affect the child.

Gilman believes that Cal Poly prepared her for the professional world by teaching her how to learn new information and apply it in practical settings. The internships that she completed at SLO High, with Mrs. Macartney, and TEACH elementary, with Mrs. Robson and Mrs. Serafin, were especially helpful as she was able to observe excellent teachers overcoming challenges in their own classrooms. She also had the chance to begin designing interactive activities and projects for the students, which has shaped her teaching philosophy.

She is passionate about meeting every student at their level and celebrating their progress along the way. This is in part due to observing her own professors in action, like Dr. Jovanovic, Dr. Lee and Dr. Jipson, as they taught her how to focus on her students and design classes to fit their needs and goals.

While studying at Cal Poly she worked for three years as a campus resident advisor and feels that this experience living and working with young college students shaped her desire to one day teach at the university level. Gilman will be attending the master's degree in TESOL program at the University of San Diego starting in the fall.

Alexandra Kanemaru (Psychology, ‘15)

Alexandra KanemaruKanemaru is attending Washington University in St. Louis to earn her Master of Public Health concentrating her studies on epidemiology and biostatistics. Kanemaru is currently working in two research labs at Washington University: St. Louis School of Medicine in the Department of General Medicine and the Department of Surgery. In the Department of Medicine, she focuses on workplace safety as it relates to construction, ergonomics, and the opioid epidemic. In the Department of Surgery, Kanemaru utilizes Nurse’s Health Study II cohort data to understand the relationship between breast and ovarian cancer and early onset colorectal cancer (CRC) in patients under 50 years old. She also dabbles in comparative genomic research as it relates to early vs. late onset CRC. In her spare time, she works to understand how technology can be leveraged to increase patient coverage and lower costs in order to create a more holistic approach to preventative medicine. After graduation in May 2019, Kanemaru plans to return to California.

Kanemaru’s time spent at Cal Poly was a highly transformative experience as she gained deeper insights in a clinical setting as well as in research. Her time spent interning at Transitions Mental Health Association during her senior year was informative in the way she approaches mental health and empathy in a clinical setting. Her senior project led by Dr. Taylor Smith on 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome and Schizophrenia was deeply insightful and prepared her for the rigor of research.

Jenna (Emadzadeh) Latino (Child Development, ’13)

Jenna Latino

Latino completed a Teaching Credential program and earned her master’s degree in education with a concentration in leadership from Dominican University. She enjoyed two years of teaching 5th grade in the Bay Area; however, she returned to San Luis Obispo after being hired in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

Latino is currently in her fifth year of teaching, and third year of teaching 4th grade at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School. She believes in meeting each child’s needs in the classroom, and acknowledges that this may not look the same for each student. While creating curriculum, she considers students’ abilities, needs, and learning styles by differentiating instruction and incorporating auditory, visual, and kinesthetic means. Her goals as a teacher include creating a safe, positive, and inclusive classroom environment, valuing and celebrating diversity and each student’s cultural background, and continuously seeking ways to improve student learning. All of these teaching philosophies and beliefs are rooted in her education and her memorable child development and psychology classes. She continues to stay in touch with and look up to her past professors.

She is extremely appreciative of her time at Cal Poly, and most importantly, her child development family and experiences. She gained life-long friends, irreplaceable hands-on experiences, and the tools necessary to prepare her for her future aspirations. As a teacher in the community, she works with current child development majors who observe and intern in her classroom. She hopes to continue to mentor students and aspires to become a Cal Poly professor.

Phoebe Pynchon (Child Development, ’11)

Phoebe PynchonPynchon taught preschool for several years then worked under a developmental optometrist proving vision therapy services before attending graduate school. She graduated with a Master of Science in speech-language pathology from California State University, San Marcos in 2018.

“My degree in child development helped me to build a strong foundation for a holistic approach to helping children and families. I realized that I loved the challenges of working with children with special needs. Each child is unique, and I love the puzzle of figuring out how to support someone to reach their greatest potential. I selected the program at San Marcos because it reminded me of the Learn by Doing philosophy of Cal Poly, and provided invaluable, hands-on experiences. Rather than paper and pencil tests, we completed simulations, getting graded on real scenarios we may encounter in the workforce. I had the opportunity to participate in a research grant providing extra training on evaluating and treating children with cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. Through the grant, we helped run a free summer camp for children with craniofacial differences. This is my first year working as a speech language pathologist in the Escondido Union School District. At least 90% of my caseload is bilingual, and a high majority of the students I work with come from low-income households. Courses like Children's Development in Diverse Cultures helped me develop perspective on different ways children may grow up, and incorporate that knowledge with sensitivity into my practice. My greatest strength going into this field has been my foundation as a life-long learner. Our understanding of development, education, and speech and language specifically is forever evolving. To be a strong practitioner, you have to keep up with the research and use evidence-based practices. At Cal Poly, courses like Research Methods taught me how to digest that information myself and make educated decisions for my students. I can say with certainty that my education at Cal Poly made me feel confident to pursue my dreams within the field and continues to fuel my passion for helping children.”

Kevin Troutt (Psychology, ’17)

Kevin TrouttTroutt is currently working toward a master's degree in marriage and family therapy at Syracuse University. He is providing services for a variety of couples and families in the local Syracuse community. As part of the program, he is a member of the Gender Expansive Support Team, where he provides support for gender-expansive persons. During the last academic year, Troutt has been working as a graduate intern for Syracuse University's Office of Health Promotion. As part of that position, he runs a variety of programs related to student health and wellbeing, assisting a team of student peer educators that focus on sexual health, healthy relationships, mental health and safety around alcohol and other drugs.

"I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunities to work on research and the flexibility of our program's concentration. I chose to do an individualized course of study concentration where I focused on statistics. It has been so helpful to have a strong foundation in psychological concepts, interpersonal skills and research methods." He is also very grateful for the amazing faculty he had at Cal Poly. "The faculty inspired me to become my authentic self. The years I had at Cal Poly were extremely formative, and I'm so thankful for the environment and support I had through the PSY/CD department."

Sarah Valverde (M.S. Psychology, '12)

Sarah ValverdeValverde has worked in non-profit organizations since graduating, first as a trauma therapist at Santa Maria High School and then as a child therapist at Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) in Santa Maria. During her time at CALM, she became certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and developed a specialty in family therapy.

In 2016, Valverde became certified as a child forensic interviewer for the District Attorney’s Office of Santa Barbara County and has interviewed over 200 children who may be victims of or witness to crimes. She is now the sexual assault team coordinator for Santa Barbara County, acting as lead interviewer and coordinating a multidisciplinary team of nurses, doctors, law enforcement, district attorneys, advocates and child welfare workers to effectively respond to sexual assaults.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice, Valverde sees children, families, and adults. She is a trained Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapist and continues to use her CBT and parent-child interaction therapy modalities to treat attachment and behavioral disorders as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

Valverde enjoys every opportunity to serve as a guest speaker for Cal Poly’s psychology graduate students. She credits much of her clinical ability to the early training and supervision she received during her practicum and traineeship experiences while completing her Cal Poly degree.


Read more from the 2019 Newsletter

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