Tuesday, April 26, 2016

URSP Student Leanna Moron Explores Predictors of Depression among Central American Immigrant Mothers

My first real research experience was in the Summer of 2015, where I worked as a research assistant for Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Statistics. From this Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, I learned that I wanted to continue doing quantitative research and to pursue a career as a statistician.

In the Fall 2015 semester, I joined my Human Development and Family Science professor, Dr. Bethany Letiecq, on an on-going interdisciplinary research project. The research team works in partnership with Latina immigrant women from Central America, who now reside in Northern Virginia with their families. I joined the project as an intern (fulfilling HDFS 498-499 for a total of 6 credits) and undergraduate research assistant, where I assist with data collection, management, and analysis.

My URSP project is Exploring Predictors of Depression among Central American Immigrant Mothers: A Multidisciplinary CBPR Approach. The purpose of this study is to delineate the strongest predictors of depressive symptomology among undocumented immigrant mothers from Central America to inform future contextually-based mental health interventions.

On a weekly basis, I do a variety of tasks. This week I wrote a proposal abstract to the 2016 National Council of Family Relations (NCFR) conference. I also work on conducting literature reviews, data analyses, and manuscript preparation. From preliminary data analysis this week, I have found that, based on our sample, health perceptions and years of education are protective factors against depression. This implies that having better perceptions of your health and having higher levels of education were related to lower depression scores.

In addition, I also go to Alexandria City Public Schools’ English Language Learners (ACPS ELL) office in Alexandria. I help new immigrant and native-born families register their children for school by helping them fill out school forms in both English and Spanish; this in particular has been a humbling experience in which I have the opportunity to build my interpersonal skills and Spanish-speaking skills.

George Mason’s Undergraduate Research Scholars Program has been such an enriching experience to my undergraduate career. This interdisciplinary project gives me the opportunity to explore my interests in the fields of Human Development & Family Science, Statistics and Spanish. As an aspiring statistician/family scientist, I want to continue working on interesting social-science related projects that have an impact on improving the quality of people’s lives.