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SURP Interns 2017

Learn more about each SURP intern and their research project in these articles:

UVA's SURP Program Provides this First-Generation Student Invaluable Professional Development: Josh Lovett on the “Supporting Middle School Science Teachers’ Use of Evidence-Based Practices: Assembling a Multimedia-Based Professional Development Package that Works” project.
Two SURP Interns Discuss How Connections Have Changed Their Experience at UVA: Jasmin Castillo and Archie Matta Jr. on the "Creating Opportunities for Relationships (COR)” project.


Jasmin Brooks

Jasmin Brooks attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a dual major in Psychology and Sociology. At her institution she has served as a Resident Advisor for incoming freshman for the past two years. In addition, she has been a Multicultural Advisor as well as a Peer Coach for students on academic probation for the past year. In Summer 2016, Jasmin co-presented with her mentor, Dr. Anthony Smith, their research on the implications that multigenerational trauma can have in a clinical setting, at the Annual Convention for the Association for Black Psychologists. She studied abroad in Barcelona during Spring 2017, where in addition to taking classes, she volunteered at a local middle school to gain direct exposure to the impacts that culture can have on learning. Jasmin currently serves as a research assistant in the African American Youth Wellness Lab at UNC Chapel Hill, investigating racial vigilance as a potential mediator between discrimination and African-American mental health. Her long-term research interests include how the socialization of race and the internalization of stereotypes and discriminative experiences can impact the academic achievement and student motivation of African-American youth. Her ultimate desires, however, are not only to continue this passion for research but also to have a more personal and tangible impact on the lives of African-Americans and minorities through therapy and clinical practice. Her summer research, conducted with Lauren M. Elreda, PhD, Nancy Deutsch, PhD and Amanda Kibler, PhD, will examine how peer, teacher-student and classroom-level interactions account for student learning and development.

Jasmin Castillo

Jasmin Castillo was raised in New York City alongside her brother and sister. She currently attends Fordham University where she is working towards a degree in Psychology. At Fordham, she is a Tutor/Counselor for the Science and Technology Entry Program as well as a research intern in two Psychology Labs working on school-based interventions. Her research interests lie at the intersection of education and criminal justice and include the role of biases and discrimination in classrooms, as well students’ perceptions of authority figures. After graduating from Fordham she plans to matriculate into a PhD program in Educational or Social Psychology with the hope of developing school- and community-based prevention and intervention programs for students who might otherwise fall into the school-to-prison pipeline. This summer she will be working with Jason Downer, PhD on his project, Creating Opportunities for Relationships (COR). 



Taqiyyah Elliott

Taqiyyah Elliott is a rising senior at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is currently a Political Science major with a minor in Women’s Studies, and ultimately desires to pursue a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy. Eventually, Taqiyyah hopes to develop and run a non-profit organization that focuses on educating and empowering low income minority youth, contributing to their progress politically, socially, and economically. She would also like to assist with the development, assessment, and implementation of policies that will contribute to more efficient educational practices. In addition to achieving excellence in her academic pursuits, Taqiyyah has maintained an impressive record of continual leadership and service. She has interned/worked with Tulane Cowen Institute for Public Education Research as a research policy intern. She has served as the Community Plunge Coordinator for the Peer Dean Planning Committee, coordinating volunteer opportunities for over 500 new students. She has also served as the Project Coordinator for MAX for an Outreach program that focuses on providing educationally enriching activities for the students.

Kelly Garrett

Kelly Garrett attends Howard University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Human Development. At her institution, she serves as a research assistant where she engages in research on cultural socialization and its effects on the academic and psychosocial outcomes of children. She has volunteered for Jumpstart as a team leader where she implemented early childhood curriculum and promoted language and literacy skills to preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. She also volunteers for a nonprofit organization where she provides support to children and families who are affected by trauma, abuse, and violence. She hopes to work as a child psychologist and develop interventions to help children who may be susceptible to psychological and social ailments as a result of environmental stressors.  Her research interests include studying the impact that poverty has on the educational, behavioral, and social outcomes of children. 



Athena Gordon

Athena Gordon attends Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, and is majoring in Sociology and English (with an emphasis in nonfiction writing). At her institution, she held many student leadership positions, and conducted evaluation research for the Department of Residential Life. Serving as a mentor and classroom volunteer at Keithley Middle School since 2014, Athena enjoys working with students to promote an inclusive and positive learning atmosphere.




Dyana Lazo

Dyana Lazo attends California State University, Long Beach with a major in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.  At her institution, she has served as a research assistant in a behavioral neuroscience lab with Dr. Yada Treesukosol, which analyses meal patterns and dietary changes in animal models. She is also a peer educator for Project RISE – a gender violence prevention program that works with her university’s Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies department. Under this program, she helps educate the student body about preventing and reducing gender violence/rape culture while advocating for survivors of sexual assault. Her research interests include developmental psychology, family structures, gender/feminism, and educational interventions. 



Josh Lovett

Josh Lovett attends Duke University with a major in Psychology and a minor in education and Korean. At his institution, he serves as a teaching assistant in introductory psychology and volunteers with the American Red Cross, Liberty in North Korea, and Project BUILD. He also serves as a peer mentor for first-generation college students like himself and tutors for undergraduate psychology courses. In 2015, he completed DukeEngage in South Korea, where he taught English to multiethnic children and North Korean refugee students. In 2016, he returned to South Korea to do documentary work with North Korean refugees and created a short documentary about their experiences. His long-term research interests include understanding language learning at different ages and finding ways to better integrate online learning resources into the classroom. 



Archie Matta Jr.

Archie Matta Jr. attends the University of Guam with a major in psychology and a minor in biology. He was a product of the UOG Trio Upward Bound program, a college preparation program for high school students, where he eventually served as an English tutor in 2014. He later went on to work as a student program assistant at the UOG I Pinangon (“Awakening”) Campus Suicide Prevention Program in 2016, where he helped raise awareness on the stigma of discussing, seeking help for, and acknowledging warning signs of suicide. He aided in conducting a pilot study on a suicide autopsy, where he interviewed the family and friends of a suicide victim in hopes of identifying common factors and cultural patterns within the island community. In the summer of 2016, he and his colleagues presented their findings at the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology in Japan. His recent undergraduate work on the possible link between mental flexibility and intercultural sensitivity will be published in the first volume of the Undergraduate Research Journal of Micronesia in the Spring of 2017. He has had an interest in understanding individual differences in learning and cognitive styles, academic motivation, and hierarchal social interactions, particularly in terms of disparities among cultures, socioeconomic status, and social influences. This coming summer, he will be working with Dr. Jason Downer on his study “Creating Opportunities for Relationships (COR)”. 

Briana Williams

Briana Williams hails from the small town of Sumter, SC. She is a rising senior at Claflin University majoring in Psychology. Throughout her collegiate journey, she has been a dedicated scholar, diligent campus leader, and an inspiring mentor.  Through her involvement with campus organizations like student government, Psi Chi Honors Society, and Peer Mentors, she has been able to take her study of psychology and used it to enhance her campus and the lives of others around her. As a sophomore, she was selected as a McNair Scholar and participated in an intense graduate school training summer program, which ultimately helped her to decide upon her career aspiration of receiving her Ph.D. in social psychology and using her research to improve the lives of others. Her research interests include social support, racial identity, and sexual minority issues. She hopes to someday become an academic professor where she can not only continue contributing to the world of knowledge in academia but also help sculpt the next generation’s class of world leaders. 

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