While working with young children as part of her clinical psychology practicum, Cal State Fullerton graduate student Christina Rowley saw that children younger than 7 years old were already facing a variety of stressors and developing maladaptive coping strategies.
This inspired Rowley to pilot an intervention program for her thesis project, studying the feasibility of teaching diaphragmatic breathing (low-belly breathing) to 4- to 6-year-olds and their parents in a group setting.
“Most interventions are developed for school-aged children (i.e., older than 7 years old),” said Rowley. “I want to be part of a solution for younger kids who have the weight of the world on their shoulders, helping them alleviate that load.”
Rowley, the recipient of the Alumni Association’s 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student award, will continue her research this fall at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program.
During her time at CSUF, Rowley took advantage of opportunities to present at regional and national conferences, and received research grants and scholarships from the American Psychological Association, National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
In addition to her training practicum, where she conducted therapy with families and children in low-socioeconomic areas, Rowley served as graduate lab manager for the Department of Psychology’s Behavioral Health Promotion Lab. There, she gained skills in training other undergraduates and supervising their research.
“All these opportunities have helped me grow to be accepted into a great Ph.D. program and ultimately prepare me for an academic career as a professor studying risk and protective factors for children’s social-emotional development,” said Rowley, who hopes to apply her research to develop early intervention and prevention programs for underserved youth.
Yuko Okado, assistant professor of psychology, described Rowley as a “bright, hard-working individual” who excels in academics, independent and collaborative research, clinical training, teaching and more.
“In my lab, she has consistently sought ways to challenge herself and grow as a researcher,” shared Okado. “She has presented at several conferences, and has served as a co-author on two manuscripts submitted to top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. It is not surprising that her intellectual promise has been recognized by Ph.D. programs.”