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Children & Society Archived Connecting Experiences Spotlights

Michelle Lenihan

Major: Psychology
Type of Experience: Research
Mentor: Barbara Jones, Social Work

In spring 2009, Michelle worked on a research project investigating pediatric palliative care and childhood cancer survivors with Professor Barbara Jones from the School of Social Work and the Institute for Grief, Loss, and Family Survival. Her specific responsibilities included gathering literature, reviewing articles, developing a survey, and attending lectures and meetings at the Dell Children’s Medical Center. Michelle came away from this Connecting Experience with a deeper understanding of end-of-life care for children and the impact of childhood illness on families.

Ashley Lemell

Major: Social Work
Type of Experience: Research
Mentor: Holly Bell, Social Work

Ashley was a research assistant for a project analyzing the response of Austin’s social service agencies to the influx of Katrina victims. With a team of research assistants, Ashley coded interviews conducted with social workers and their clients in order to build a database for other researchers.

Ivonne Estrella

Major: Psychology and Linguistics
Type of Experience: Internship in Brownsville, TX
Mentor: Stephanie Cawthon, Educational Psychology

Ivonne explored her interests in child development through interning at Victoria Heights Elementary School, located in Brownsville ISD. During this internship, she learned about the school system’s techniques and approaches to children with different disabilities. She participated in the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities under the Special Services Extended School Year Program to better understand how children interact with others in an educational setting. One of her main goals was to understand how to address disabilities in children before they are officially diagnosed.

Elisabeth Netherton

Major: Biology
Type of experience: Internship in Austin
Mentor: Chris McCarthy, Educational Psychology

In Summer 2007, Elizabeth interned at the hematology/oncology outpatient clinic at the Dell Children’s Medical Center. The focus of her internship was on teaching critically ill children, and in some cases their parents, how to knit. An avid knitter, Elizabeth knows that knitting as a hobby is widely known to decrease stress in adults. She wanted to give these children with cancer a tool to use to decrease stress over the course of their treatment. While Elizabeth didn’t conduct a formal research project to determine if knitting reduced stress, she was able to observe that this was the case. Being a pre-med student, she was also able to learn a great deal about the inner workings of a hospital and some of the patient concerns that dominate health care for the critically ill.

Amir Boroujerdi

Major: Spanish
Type of experience: Research abroad
Mentor: Linda Ferreira-Buckley, English; Ron Angel, Sociology and LBJ School

Through his BDP in Children and Society, Amir explored his interests in social justice and children’s access to education and health care. In Summer 2003, under the supervision of faculty mentor Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Amir investigated the K-12 education system in Roma, Texas. His interests then turned toward children and access to health care in Latin American countries. In 2004, Amir traveled throughout Latin America and interviewed health clinic officials to learn more about how different countries approached health care for children. Ron Angel, Sociology and LBJ School of Public Affairs, supervised this independent research. In Summer 2006, Amir researched health care access for homeless children in Mexico. He used national statistical data at the Public Health School at La Universidad Nacional Autonomia de Mexico and interned at La Casa Ananda, a children’s homeless shelter in Mexico City. He used this fieldwork as the basis for his senior honors thesis and for a short film he produced in spring 2007 that focused on child homelessness in Mexico City.