Sebastian Barajas graduated from St. John’s College, Annapolis in 2017, where he completed an interdisciplinary program focused on Western classic texts of philosophy, math, science, literature, and history. Post-graduation, he worked as a full-time intern creating educational videos and writing content for the National Youth Rights Association, a nonprofit organization that challenges ageist laws, attitudes, and beliefs that affect young people.
His areas of interest include youth and children’s rights, youth and children’s political participation, age and ageism, and how age intersects with sex, race, class, sexuality, ability, and nationality
Dana Barrett graduated from Rutgers University- Camden in 2017 with a B.S. in Business Management. Currently, she works as an Academic Advisor for the online BABA degree program affiliated with the Camden Campus. Urban education and girlhood studies will be her focus as she pursues a M.A. in Childhood Studies.
Ryan Bunch’s interests are in music, theater, film, and other media related to childhood and youth. His recent work has engaged with the meanings of narrative, affect, music, animation, nostalgia, and vocal/embodied performance in the representation and participation of young people in musicals and popular culture. His research on stage and screen musicals adapted from The Wizard of Oz appears in the journal Studies in Musical Theatre, and his forthcoming publications include chapters on Disney films, Schoolhouse Rock, NBC’s live musical broadcasts, The Sound of Music, and Sesame Street. Ryan’s work further draws upon his past experiences as a puppeteer, music director, writer, composer, and vocal coach for community and youth theater. With a degree in historical musicology from the University of Maryland, Ryan has taught courses in music at Temple University, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Holy Family University. He currently teaches vocal performance in the Fine Arts Department at Rutgers-Camden.
Delene J. Coates is a first year master’s student in Childhood Studies. She earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She works in special education at the elementary school level and in her free time she volunteers with the homeless population and with teens of the LGBTQ community. She is an avid reader and enjoys creating crafts. She also has a small catering and event planning business. She is looking forward to earning her MA to become an applied behavior specialist for children on the autism spectrum.
Kacey Doran studies American culture and visual media for children at Rutgers-Camden’s Childhood Studies doctoral program. Specifically, she investigates cross-medium adaptations present in modern American children’s media following their mythological and folkloric origins to their current technological incarnations. Kacey’s other research interests within the field of Childhood Studies include Scandinavian, Welsh-Celtic, and various European fairy tales, mythologies, legends, and folkloric traditions. Her interests outside of the field include queer theory and analytical art philosophy. Her master’s thesis “The Claimed American, the Ignored Immigrant: Superman and What It Means to be American” explores a glaring, yet often overlooked, aspect of America’s first superhero. Kacey’s conference paper discussing Wreck-It Ralph, video games, and their impact on children’s film is being considered for publication by the Children’s Literature Journal. Kacey graduated from the Children’s Literature M.A. program at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
E Feinman graduated from The George Washington University in 2017, where they majored in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Upon graduating, they received the Distinguished Scholars Award and the Undergraduate Prize for Feminist Scholarship for their research on transgender and gender-expansive youth and adults. Post-graduation, they worked as a Program & Research Assistant with the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). In their three years with CSSP, they developed trainings and resources to promote racial equity, contributed to research efforts on LGBTQ+ youth and families involved in child welfare, and supported child welfare reform efforts in several states. They volunteer with Camp Brave Trails by serving as summer camp counselor for Camp Brave Trails’ leadership-focused sleep away camp for LGBTQ+ youth and by organizing additional programming for LGBTQ+ throughout the rest of the year. In their free time, E enjoys learning piano, jigsaw puzzles, reading, and dancing.
Their areas of interest include youth identities and LGBTQ+ youth, girlhood studies, experiences of youth and their families involved in child welfare and the criminal justice system, and how age intersects with sex, race, class, sexuality, and ability.
E’s participation in this program is in honor of their love for their late husband, Bradin Austin Mercado (2.27.1990–11.25.2020).
Katie Fredricks is a doctoral candidate and instructor in the department of childhood studies at Rutgers – University Camden. Her dissertation, “Discourses of Girlhood in Reality TV Docusoaps,” is an analysis of Lifetime Network’s popular tween-centric, dance-based docudrama shows, Dance Moms & Bring It! Areas of interest include childhood and adolescence studies; girlhood studies; critical television studies; discourse analysis; mediated notions of reality, authenticity, and individualism; reality television; critical race studies. Teaching undergraduates about childhood studies, online and in-person, is also an important part of Katie’s work.
Diana Carolina García Gómez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Childhood Studies Department at Rutgers University—Camden. Drawing from the fields of childhood studies, memory studies, decolonial thought, and international relations, Diana’s research focuses on children’s and youth’s political participation in peacebuilding, collective memory, and social movements in post-conflict contexts, particularly in post-accord Colombia. Her dissertation CULTIVATING HOPE: Children’s and Youth’s participation in collective memory processes in post-accord Colombia centers children’s and youth participation in transitional contexts by examining their engagement with collective memory processes in urban and rural settings. Diana holds a BA in Political Science from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and a MA in Cognition and Communication from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Joseph V. Giunta
Joseph V. Giunta studies the children’s film genre through the lens of the New Sociology of Childhood. After earning his MA from the Cinema Studies program at New York University, his academic interests transformed from postmodern evolutions of the children’s cinematic genre into investigations of the ideologies of childhood and constructions of young people in multimedia narratives. By considering the oscillating representations of children’s moral agencies, unique peer cultures, and interactions with play, Joseph endeavors to highlight fantasy circumscription, childhood subjectivity, and the pedagogical functions present within popular culture characterizations of youth. His other scholarly passions include structural histories of film genres from science fiction and action to animation and cult, employing film as an educational tool for young people, and multimedia adaptations of cultural tales. In his downtime, you can find Joseph worshipping at the altar of Willem Dafoe, crafting remarkably accurate Stranger Things theories, and expanding his already superfluous sneaker collection.
Gaylene Gordon has a BA in Criminal Justice and a MA in Criminal Justice, both attained from Rutgers University – Camden. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Childhood Studies. Gaylene has taught recitation courses in Methods and Techniques of Social Research as well as a dual semester civically engaged advocacy course geared toward juveniles on probation in the juvenile justice system. She has also been a Graduate Fellow and Faculty Fellow, both concentrated in Civic Engagement.
Gaylene has co-authored “Surviving All the Way to College: Pathways Out of One of America’s Most Crime Ridden Cities” in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. She has presented topics centered on this research at several conferences, including annual meetings for the American Society of Criminology. This article reflects a portion of her interests which also include female delinquency, risk and resilience of vulnerable youth, recidivism and race and ethnicity. She is curious about what, if any, relationship exists between her interests and the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems.
Currently, Gaylene is the Graduate Writing Assistant for Rutgers University – Camden. Gaylene is dedicated to bringing victim awareness, bias awareness and trauma informed care to the juvenile justice system.
Amy Henry holds a Bachelors of Arts in English from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She has worked in the applied research and consulting field for almost 15 years and has a passion for helping organizations translate an authentic understanding of youth and parents into ideas that can improve their lives. She has conducted research and consulted for media and non-profit organizations including Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS Kids Sprout, Scholastic, National Geographic Society, The American Museum of Natural History, Boy Scouts of America, Common Sense Media and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. In this program, Amy intends to study the role of youth in social movements and youth as social activists.
Smruthi Bala Kannan
Smruthi has an integrated MA in English Studies with a minor in Economics from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a Young India Fellow 2014. She has worked with schools in South India in different capacities including on monitoring education policy implementation, storytelling, remedial teacher support, and teacher workshops on classroom strategy.
She is interested in observing the experience of being a child in post-colonial situations. Studying language, culture, and ability in these contexts, she is curious about the gap between schools and the communities they serve in terms of their aspirations for the child.
Kathleen Kellett holds her M.A. in Children’s Literature and M.F.A. in Writing for Children from Simmons College, and her B.A. in Creative Writing from Knox College. She wrote her Master’s thesis about narratives of monstrosity in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; her paper on that same topic was published by University of Toronto Quarterly in 2018. In both her creative and academic work, she is interested in the construct of the monster and how it intersects with childhood and adolescence. In this program, she intends to research how young monsters are depicted in contemporary genre literature and media marketed to adolescents, and the ways in which marginalized teenagers may react to narratives that purport to advance “monstrous” voices.
Rashmi received her M.A in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, Universty of Delhi, and an MPhil from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has worked with young adults especially girls in a variety of conflict zones including the Maoist conflict zone of Bastar, India. Taking her research forward, her current research interests are in exploring gendered childhoods in a conflict zone.
Katherine Martin holds her M.A. in Childhood Studies from Rutgers University- Camden, and her B.A. in Contemporary Art from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working as the Program Director for a popular creative arts center based in Philadelphia, PA, and over a decade of art teaching experience, Katherine moved on academically to pursue her Ph.D. in Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden. Specifically, her dissertation interests include the history of pediatric psychology, creativity and youth art practices, and ethics and equity within the arts.
Beth got her Masters of Library Science from Simmons College in Boston, MA in 2007. She has worked as a special education teacher, and her work as a librarian was focused on teen programming and collection development. Her research interests include children, emotion, and affect– especially children’s experience with disgust and fear– in history, literature, and material culture.
Mary Louise Mitsdarffer
Mary Louise Mitsdarffer holds a masters degree in Public Health from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a bachelors in Kinesiology from Temple University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Mitsdarffer worked as a community health practitioner in the mid-Atlantic region focusing on food access, nutrition education, and youth leadership development. She continues to foster her research interests and scholarship around Public Health, community-based health initiatives, and youth leadership as a graduate research assistant on the New Jersey Health Institute’s Next Generation Community Leaders grant.
Mitsdarffer’s past research has largely focused on the built environment and youth interventions, specifically around urban gardening and active transport programs. Her current work focuses on U.S. Policy and children’s health and well-being; health disparities and Latinx children; social capital; and quantitative methods.
Anna Perry graduated from Rutgers University- Camden in 2017 with a B.A. in Childhood Studies. There, she enrolled in the Teacher Preparation Program and received a certificate in Early Elementary Education as well as Special Education. Post-graduation, she worked as a Special Education Case Manager and Reading Interventionist for students with disabilities in elementary school.
Her areas of interest include disability studies, girlhood and gender studies, youth identity development, urban education, and sexual health education. She is interested in understanding how children’s voices can be used to determine specialized services and inform positive identity development for individuals with disabilities.
Ketaki holds a masters degree in Development and an undergraduate degree in Mathematics. Prior to joining the doctoral program, she worked at a policy research organization in Bangalore, India, in the field of education. This work focused on the relationships between international and national educational policy discourses and the communities that they seek to provide for. In particular, she has looked at how socio-economically marginalized groups such as Adivasi and Dalit families negotiate provisions for early childhood development, as well as how students in government schools navigate skill-based learning programs. Following from the latter, she hopes to explore further the contemporary ‘skills’ landscape in India, at the intersection of youth, learning-for-work and neoliberalism.
Lisa’s experience as a Teach for America corps member and involvement with various nonprofit groups exposed her to educational inequities that motivated her passion for reform. Lisa’s interests in the fast-growing alternative education movements across the country – particularly democratic schooling, homeschooling, and unschooling – shed insight into various spaces of learning as they intersect with
Sunny is a doctoral student whose research interests include transracial adoption outcomes, children’s rights, and racial competency in the adoption system. She believes that children of color deserve adoptive homes that shower them not just with love, but with something even more important: racial mirroring and parents who are willing to confront their own racial biases. She has great respect for those in academia and truly believes she must “stand on the shoulders of giants”. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys asking questions, reading books, hiking with her family, playing video games, and tending to her zoo (a husband, a small son, a dog, three cats, and two fish). As a young breast cancer survivor, Sunny wants the world to know that you can–and should–believe that there is always hope in the midst of great uncertainty
Heather Reel holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Wesleyan University. Prior to beginning graduate education, she spent several years working in pediatric clinical research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Kidney & Urology Foundation of America.
Heather’s scholarly work bridges U.S. social and cultural history, history of medicine, and American Studies. Her research interests include histories of child health and the body in the 20th century U.S.; historical and critical studies of food; history of health-related advertising and health consumerism; and childhood in the Cold War and Civil Rights Eras. Her dissertation work examines the spectacle of child multiple “sensations” in mid-20th century America within discourses of child health, race and eugenics.
A native of Camden, NJ, Janene holds a B.A. from Rutgers-Camden in English with a focus on Creative Writing and Pre-Modern Day Era Literature and a M.S. from Cairn University in Christian Counseling with a concentration in trauma therapy.
Janene is currently employed with the Division of Children and Families (DCF) as an investigator for child abuse and neglect. She holds certifications in Disaster Response Crisis Counseling and Hoarding. Janene is also a self-published author and facilitator for monthly seminars in Camden.
Janene’s research interests include secondary trauma and death in urban communities related to homicide, suicide and terminal illness; childhood trauma related to systemic poverty; childhood trauma within child welfare/foster care structures and cognitive conditioning of the Rap/Hip Hop culture in teens.
Jessica Schriver earned her master’s degree in English from Rutgers-Camden in 2016, completing a thesis that considered the problems of isolated women in literature through sound theory. During her time in the graduate program, Jessica taught English Composition I and II as part of the department’s teaching assistantship program. Her research interests include the mother in literature, post-human theory, and engaging in interactive media to share research.
Jane E. Shattuck
Jane E. Shattuck’s writing and research interests include the history of education, the history of religion, children’s literature, and nineteenth-century America. Her dissertation considers the role of the female academy in shaping nineteenth-century New England girlhood. A freelance publishing consultant and award-winning edit
or, Jane holds a B.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Simmons College.
Halle holds a B.A. in political science, with an emphasis in law and public policy and a M.A. in women’s and gender studies. Halle’s educational journey has been influenced by an increasing interest in studying girlhood discourses throughout time, in academia, popular culture, and institutional realms. The girl subject has transcended in Halle’s studies, from beginning at the political efficacy of girlhood and eventual womanhood to now, theorizing girls’ leisure and nighttime as central to understanding and challenging capitalism. Halle’s dissertation, “Girlhood After Dark: Nighttime, Leisure, and the Reproduction of the Self,” examines girls’ nighttime leisure as a unique lens to excavate capitalism’s regulatory power over time and the nocturnal moments that suspend it.
Michelle Lyttle Storrod
Michelle gained a BA in Sociology from the University of Birmingham and a MSc in Children Youth and International Development from Birkbeck University of London. Michelle’s Masters research ‘Digital Artefact V’s Digital Fingerprint: An Ethnography of Gangs Online’ has been used to develop the Metropolitan Polices’ Cyber Policy and also training for Officers on how Young People use Social Media. Michelle has been working with victims and offenders of serious youth violence for the last 12 years. She is the Co-Author of the Growing Against Violence curriculum which is the largest evidenced based violence prevention program in Europe. Michelle has been part of several National research projects and campaigns highlighting experiences of young people who have been victims and/or offenders of Child Sexual Exploitation in the UK. This research led to a change in Policy and training for all professionals working with anyone under the age of 18. Michelle’s research interests are related to peer group offending, gangs, how young people use social media to commit crime and also the normalisation of crime that young people are exposed to online. Michelle is also interested in how children who have experienced trauma and those who commit crimes can be seen within the context of ‘Childhood’.
Deszeree E. Thomas
Deszeree E. Thomas is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Community Based Prevention Services of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. She manages over 225 city-wide programs delivering services in the areas of family community supports, youth development, violence and deliqnuency prevention, truancy, child and family violence, housing support services, educational support services and out-of-school time. With a special interest in gender specific programming, Deszeree is interested in examining ways to mitigate the public health consequences associated with African American girls’ involvement in intimate relationships by exploring how societal representations of femininity, sexuality and love impact their attitudes and behaviors.
Palak Vashist did her undergrad in History Honors from the University of Delhi. She then received her Master’s degree in Modern Indian History from the University of Delhi and her M.phil from the same. In her M.Phil, she explored assertions of authority and legal regulations to manage the ‘child’ inside the mill in the late 19th and early 20th century in Bombay’s textile mills. Drawing on her studies and findings till date, for her PhD thesis, she wants to look into child labour from the perspective of the child and childhood itself. She wants to extend her work in three major industries of Assam Tea Plantation, Calcutta Jute industry and Bombay Textile mills.
Brandi J. Venable
Brandi J. Venable received her MA in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University in 2011 and her BA in Theatre Arts, Dramatic Writing Option from Boise State University in 2006.
She is interested in the history of childhood, themes of food and consumption in children’s and YA literature and media, eating as performance and ritual, collaborative research across disciplines, and digital humanities projects.
Lidong Xiang received her BA in Chinese language and literature and MA in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature with the research focus in children’s literature and the history of childhood. Her current research focuses are girls’ literature, the body and urban geographies of girlhood in literary and cultural narratives across Chinese newspapers, children’s periodicals, comics, films, modern and contemporary Chinese literature.
She has also researched topics such as picture book adaptations of Chinese folktales, child citizenship and national discourse, the negotiation between ideas of modernity, urbanism and childhood and children’s place-based identity.
Elisabeth M. Yang
Elisabeth M. Yang received a B.A. in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University, an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Biola University and an M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine from Durham University. She has studied at University College London and Oxford and received her CELTA degree from Cambridge University. Her current research interests concern the history and philosophy of developmental psychology, cognitive and moral development of infants, social epistemology, personhood, history of child medicine, early modern history and philosophy, Jansenism and the works of Michael Polanyi.
She is an avid tea and coffee drinker, enjoys theatre, playing the piano, discovering obscure Baroque composers, and strolling the cobble-stoned streets of Philadelphia.