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MiAmor Aguirresaenz

Undergraduate Major:Psychology

Future Plans: Ph.D in Clinical Psychology

MiAmor Aguirresaenz

MiAmor Aguirresaenz was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Orlando, Florida at the age of 5. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Her passion for the prevention of child abuse has led her to work at Family Support and Visitation Center, where she facilitates a parental skills training course. MiAmor is currently researching the effects of culture on parenting styles, specifically among Latinos populations. She plans to obtain her Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and work in an academic setting as well as have a private practice.

Research: The Protective Effects of Living with Non-Parental Adults as a Moderator of the Stressful Life Events-Depression Relationship

Conducted at DePaul University as part of the Summer Research Opportunities Program and the McNair Scholars Program
Presentation proposal submitted for the 2016 Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting program to be held on March 31 - April 2, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland

Mentor: Dr. Antonio Polo, Associate Professor – Clinical Psychology, College of Science and Health, DePaul University.

Latino adolescents are at greater risk for experiencing stress associated with lower socioeconomic status, discrimination, and other environmental risk factors (Kupisk, 2011). Research has long established a relationship between stressful life events and major depression among youth (Ge, Lorenz, Conger, Elder, & Simons, 1994). Individual, family, and community factors that help Latino adolescents combat the effects of these negative life events have not been fully explored.

Studies have found that familismo (i.e., family unity and support) serves as a protective factor against negative mental health (i.e., depression) among Latino families (Ayon, Marsiglia, & Bermudez-Parsai, 2011). One indicator of this type of support may be the presence of non-parental adult family members in the home. In the present study, the moderating effects of living with non-parental adult family members were explored as they related to the impact of stressful life events on adolescent depression. We predicted that stressful life events would be associated with higher rates of depressive symptoms among youth, but that the effects would be buffered by family support, as defined by the presence of non-parental adult family members in the home. The sample consists of 102 students aged 10 to 14 years old (M = 11.8, SD = 1.0) that were recruited for two-hour interviews being conducted at their school. Youth included males (37.3%) and females (62.7%) in the 5th (15.7%), 6th (29.4%), and 7th (54.9%) grade. The Children's Depression Inventory (CDI; Kovacs, 1992) (α = 0.90) was used to assess youth depressive symptoms and the Major Events Inventory (MEI; Elwood, 1987) was used to assess negative life events experienced by youth across several domains (i.e., school, health, and family) and the extent to which they were stressful. Youth also reported on non-parental adult family members living in their home including grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. SPSS version 20.0 and SPSS PROCESS MACRO (Hayes, 2013) were used to conduct analyses. Youth depressive symptoms were significantly correlated with stressful life events, r (101) = .48, p < .001. Non-parental adult family members served as a moderator in the relation between stressful life events and symptoms of depression among Latino students (β =-4.66, SE = 2.30, p < .05).

The preliminary findings in this study indicate that youth who live with non-parental adults may be protected from the impact of negative stressful life events. Future research should explore the mechanisms that help explain this effect. For example, the specific benefits that living with these adults may provide, including material (financial) and emotional (mentoring) support.