Sebastian Barajas is a PhD candidate whose dissertation research investigates power dynamics in non-mainstream education settings. Sebastian obtained his B.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis in 2017, an interdisciplinary program focused on Western classic texts of philosophy, math, science, literature, and history. Post-graduation, Sebastian worked as a content creator for the National Youth Rights Association, a nonprofit organization that challenges ageist laws, attitudes, and beliefs that affect young people. Sebastian’s vision for the field of childhood studies is to see it prioritize its intersectional critique of adultist power structures and to explore alternatives to them.
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.
Melinda Bowman is a first-year master’s student in Childhood Studies. She graduated from Wilmington University in 2021 with a BS in Behavioral Science. She currently works for UNOW Day Nursery, an affiliate of Princeton University as an Infant/ Toddler Program Coordinator. She enjoys taking pictures of nature and writing fictional stories. Melinda is dedicated to discovering how to support African American children whose parents have a mental illness.
Khaleha Burroughs is a devout Christian who graduated from Rutgers University-Camden in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology. She currently works for Rutgers Childcare Resource and Referral Agency as a Family Engagement Specialist. As a former Pre-K teacher, Khaleha has always had a love for children. With her M.A in childhood studies, Khaleha hopes to gain more knowledge about the history of childhood and how children have impacted our society.
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.
Rachel is a doctoral student in Childhood Studies. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University and an M.S.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2014, Rachel has been working in applied research at Philadelphia non-profits such as The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Research for Action, and the Treatment Research Institute. She has worked on research related to early childhood education programs and policy, mental health and harm reduction programs, literacy education, and out-of-school time programs. She is interested in expanding her interdisciplinary foundation in order to think more critically and ethically as an advocate and researcher.
E Lev Feinman
E Lev Feinman graduated with a B.A. in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Political Science from The George Washington University in 2017. From GWU, they received the Distinguished Scholars Award and the Undergraduate Prize for Feminist Scholarship for their research on transgender childhoods, memory, and grief. From 2017-2020, E worked at the Center for the Study of Social Policy as a Program & Research Assistant supporting child welfare reform efforts with a special focus on state systems, racial equity, families and youth of color, girls, and LGBTQ+ youth and parents. E volunteers with the Girl Museum and as a counselor with Camp Brave Trails where they mentor LGBTQ+ youth leaders and lead a variety of camp programs. Their areas of interest include queer and trans studies, gender and sexuality studies, girlhood studies, media and pop culture studies, and kinship.
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.
Elaysel Germán began her career as a reading, language arts elementary school teacher. After teaching in the classroom, she served as a literacy coach and was responsible for K-5 literacy curricula and professional development for after-school programs. She worked with community educators, teaching artists and young people on best practices in culturally sustaining instruction. She is the 2019 recipient of the International Literacy Association, Literacy Leaders 30 under 30 award, for her advocacy work on book access in NYC communities.
Her teaching and research interests include racial literacy pedagogy, critical race pedagogy, Black children’s care and resistance. She strives to understand and critique systemic racism within the U.S. public school system and advocate for learning spaces that center and love Black and Latinx children.
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.
Natalie Gologorsky is a first year Ph.D. student in Childhood Studies and a Teaching Assistant. She has her M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York City, and her B.A. in Sociology from Mills College in Oakland, California. She has spent extensive time working with young children under the age of five years old, and has taught seventh graders math support in small groups at a public middle school in Oakland. Her current research interest is in informal learning for children that takes place outside of the formal educational system. Her bachelor’s thesis was on the subject specifically of the informal learning of elementary school-aged children at a museum, the Lawrence Hall of Science, located in Berkeley, California. She is interested in the intersection of choice, self-directed learning, engagement, and the ecosystem of out-of-school programs that support these endeavors for children.
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.
Anusha has worked for 5+ years in the development sector in India in different roles within research, project management and communications. Prior to that, she completed two Masters degrees in Journalism and Development Studies from India. She has undertaken research in areas related to adolescents, children, gender and education in rural and urban parts of India. Some of her research projects included understanding the effects of mentoring programs on female adolescents, unpacking the skilling ecosystem within the Indian public education system and evaluating the impact of conditional cash transfers on adolescent girls. In the future, she would like to work with incarcerated youth in India particularly to understand their experiences navigating life, education and work post-conviction/ institutionalization.
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.
Sandra Kennedy is a 2nd year master student in the childhood studies program. She currently works for Rutgers Southern Regional Childcare Resource & Referral Agency where she assists families with financial assistance for their children’s childcare and also provides resources and support for families in need. Prior to Rutgers she worked in the New Jersey Public school system in the special education department where she assisted students with academic and daily life skills. Being a part of the Special Ed program has led her to the Childhood Studies program. She hopes with her MA to gain knowledge to add to her experience to continue her journey in the special education field.
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.
Rhea received her BA in Philosophy from Ashoka University. Prior to joining the doctoral program, Rhea worked at Sholai school in India (https://www.sholaicloaat.org/v2/), and facilitated philosophy with young people (ages 7 to 17). She drew from the ‘philosophy for children (P4c)’ movement around the world while creating content and pedagogies and took keen interest in exploring different pedagogies of ‘holistic’ and ‘contextual’ education. During the course of her work at Sholai, Rhea also began to engage with young people on various aspects of gender and sexuality through the medium of stories and activities. While learning about practices of unschooling (as understood by John Holt), Rhea travelled to conduct p4c workshops with first-generation school-goers in different parts of rural India and began wondering about the potential of such practices for marginalised groups. Through her PhD, Rhea hopes to delve deeper into the questions that arose while working with young people in India while furthering her interests in ‘holistic education’ and pedagogies in philosophy with children.
Deborah Lynam is a first year master’s student in Childhood Studies and a Graduate Research & Grant Assistant. She currently serves on the Family Engagement Advisory Board for the National Center on Improving Literacy as well as the Board of Directors of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. Deborah consults on the NJ Department of Education’s State Implementation and Scaling Up Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) project, previously chaired the State Special Education Advisory Council, and served on the Dyslexia Handbook Committee. She is the former Director of Partnerships & Engagement at AIM Institute for Learning & Research and previously worked as a Family Resource Specialist for New Jersey’s Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN). Her areas of interest include children’s rights, early literacy instruction, education policy, implementation science, and learning disabilities.
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.
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.
LaTiana Ridgell has a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Chico State and a Master of Public Health degree from Drexel University. Previously, she worked with Nurse Family Partnership as a Nurse Home Visitor supporting first-time parents until their child turned two years old. She has testified with the Lead-Free Philly Coalition advocating for the universal lead law that passed in 2019.
Her areas of interest include Black childhoods, Black children’s joy, girlhood, and public policy. She has a particular interest in understanding the ways Black children exercise their agency in resisting adultification.
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.
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 Temporality of Gender,” examines girls’ nighttime leisure as a unique lens to excavate capitalism’s regulatory power over time and the nocturnal moments that suspend it.
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.
Cecelela Tomi is a doctoral student in Childhood Studies and an aspiring documentarian. She learned about the power of bibliotherapy and cinematherapy while pursuing her Social Work degree at The University of Michigan, hence her research aims to develop a therapeutic repository for Black families worldwide. Her evolving areas of expertise include: children of African immigrant home care workers, embodied liberation, representations of black girlhood, sacred places, and indigenous ways of knowing. Cecelela holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from The University of Pennsylvania, and she is the first in her family to pursue a Ph.D.
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.