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Christy Clarke

Undergraduate Major: Early Childhood Development Major

Future Plans: Graduate program in Early Childhood Development

Christy Clarke

Christy was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. She is currently an Early Childhood Development major. From a young age, she has had a strong passion for working with young children and families. She served as the transfer liaison on the University's Student Undergraduate Research Council for the 2012-2013 year. She actively promotes research on campus and mentored 150+ students during the 2012-2013 academic year as the peer mentor for the Office of Undergraduate Research. She is intrigued by research that involves mother and infant interactions and attachment. She is also interested in studying socio-demographic factors in underrepresented populations. Currently she is completing an undergraduate honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Anne Culp and an internship at the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County under the supervision of Dr. Cindy Jurie. She is interested in pursuing her Ph.D. in child and family sciences or a related field.

Title: The Quality of Attachment in Premature Infants: An Analysis of Mother-Infant Relationships

Conducted at the University of Central Florida as part of the Honors in the Major program

Mentor: Dr. Anne Culp, UCF College of Education and Human Performance

Honors in the Major Scholarship

Abstract: : According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), nearly a half a million babies in the United States are born premature each year. Mothers and their preterm infants are at risk for attachment difficulties because a preterm birth causes a separation between the mother and infant that may cause mothers to withdraw in a manner that is detrimental to the infants' development (Evans, Whittingham, & Boyd 2011). The separation period not only affects the fragile infant who needs maternal interaction; it also deeply affects the mother and places them at a great risk for maternal depression. Using previously gathered data, a qualitative case study was conducted on four mothers in a home visitation intervention group and their 12-month-old infants who were born premature. Attachment behaviors were assessed of the mothers and infants during a recorded play session. A review of the mothers' home visitation files was conducted to glean information related to depression, living conditions and home visitors notes regarding the visits before and after the pregnancy.

Title: The Role of Attachment to Parents on Cultural Mistrust during the First Year Transition to College

Conducted at DePaul University as part of a Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)

Mentor: Dr. Luciano Berardi, McNair Scholar Program Director, DePaul University

Abstract: Cultural mistrust is defined as a pervasive attitude that minority individuals may have towards European Americans as a result of historical discrimination and oppression in the U.S (Berardi, Colon, Fever, Roundfield & Sanchez, 2005). As a fairly new phenomenon, cultural mistrust is a newly tested theory, particularly in an academic setting with emergent adults. Attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969) is defined as patterns of relationships across the lifespan, which is known to be a good predictor of academic outcomes, particularly first-year college students leaving their parents for the first time. This study examines the role of attachment to parents on student's cultural mistrust during the first year of college transition. Participants of this study included first-year students at a large, urban, private university (N=590). Also, the present study demonstrated if race mediates the relationship between students' attachment and the role cultural mistrust has on college adjustment. Knowing this information is important because it can help to develop resources to assist students who are struggling with their ethnic identity to effectively fit in their new environment and ultimately improve their level of academic achievement.

Title: Highly Distracted Parents: Does it Affect Children's Interactions?

Conducted at the University of Central Florida as part of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program

Mentor: Dr. Tara Saath-off Wells (Penn State University) and Dr. Anne Culp, UCF College of Education

Abstract: During this project, 36 mother infant play sessions were recorded as a part of a longitudinal early intervention study. The age group targeted was 12-month old infants. The areas of measure include six dimensions for quality of play, TV distractions with regard to how many instances and length of time the parent was distracted by the TV and three types of teaching utterances. We hypotheses that our highly distracted mothers would score low in quality of play and teaching utterances compared to the moms who score low on TV distraction. Results indicated that 4 out of the 36 moms were highly distracted scoring low on teaching utterances and play. When mothers do very little descriptive teaching and descriptive questioning, they are more distracted.

Publications Pita, M., Ramirez, C., Joacin, N., Prentice, S., Clarke, C. (2013). Five Effective Strategies for Mentoring Undergraduates: Students' Perspectives. CUR Quarterly, 33 (3).