I'm Aileen Garcia, a graduate student at the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I come to UNL with a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from Manila, Philippines. I was previously a first grade teacher, a college instructor, and a research lab manager.

My current research goals include examining the pathways by which adverse and non-normative life events (such as poverty, migration, and divorce, among others) impact family dynamics and how resulting parenting practices influence children’s socioemotional and literacy development. I also look at the different protective factors parents employ to buffer the negative effects of these life events on their children. Recently, I have finished interviewing Filipino and Filipino American mothers in Reno, Nevada for the Culture and Parenting Study led by Dr. Maria de Guzman.

Aileen Garcia

Another project I am working on is the UNL Extension’s The Learning Child under the supervision of Dr. Tonia Durden. This is a state-wide project which aims to disseminate information and develop research-based strategies on how to best support early childhood development. I manage the evaluation data of these parenting and teaching programs held in different Nebraska counties.

There are so many opportunities for learning and growth here at UNL, especially for international students like me. For instance, I was able to travel to different cities across the country to attend conferences and present my papers. I have also been invited to write and work on research collaborations. These, of course, were made possible through the guidance of my thoughtful advisors and the support of the department. And with all these happening in just a short span of ten months, I can’t help but be excited about the many other things UNL has to offer in the coming years. I am glad and humbled to be here.


My name is Ali Martin. I am from Madison, Wisconsin. I chose the CYAF department at UNL specifically because of the friendly faculty and staff as well as the department's focus on international research and travel opportunities. I have had a research and teachinhg assistantship for the past two years, which has allowed me to explore and teach about family and human developmental topics from an international perspective. Through the CFAF department in May of 2014, I had an opportunity to travel throughout India to connect with several NGOs serving and working with survivors of human trafficking and slavery. In May 2016, I hope to travel to Brazil with the CYAF department. Upon relocating to Lincoln, I found it surprising how much more there is to Nebraska besides corn fields! The students, faculty, and staff at UNL are exceptionally friendly and helpful. I can easily see how thee professional relationships and personal friendships that I have developed here will last a lifetime.

Ali Martin


I chose to come to UNL for three reasons. 1) The great faculty who shared similar research interests. I was able to come and participate in the ongoing researcher, while being supported by the faculty to explore my own research endeavors. 2) The exciting opportunity of doing global research, and to become a culturally competent global citizen. The research makes a local impact, with global implications. 3) Being able to develop a program of study specific to my interests. I take courses from multiple departments to become a well rounded scholar.

My research interests include global mental health, mental health disparities, couple conflict, couple relationships, and young widowhood. I enjoy both qualitative and quantitative research, and am excited to earn the mixed methods certificate at UNL. I enjoy supervising and discussing marriage and family therapy theory with the therapy students.

Nathan Taylor

I had the opportunity to go on a study abroad to China in May 2015. We spent 1 week in Beijing and 1 week in Xi’an. It was a life changing experience to travel through China. I not only developed a greater understanding of collectivistic cultures, but came to a better understanding of myself. We visited schools, families, parks, and cultural significant sites. I am looking forward to going to Australia in October 2015 to collaborate on rural mental health research.

Lincoln has been a great place to live. I am married with two small boys. There are parks, trails, museums, and zoos nearby that help make family life enjoyable. With City and East Campus, UNL has a large student population but is never busy. From football to shows, there are always extracurricular events to attend, and other students to meet. I have been supported by the Department and College to attend research conferences nationwide, and to travel abroad. As a CYAF graduate student, we have great events where faculty members and students share their cultural food skills.


My name is Sarah Taylor, and I am originally from Minden, Nebraska, a small town in the south central part of the state.

I chose the Department of Child, Youth & Family Studies at UNL for a few reasons. First, I new that faculty in the CYAF department are known, both, nationally and internationally for producing high quality research; thus, I knew I would receive training from outstanding researchers that would help me prepare for my future after graduate school. Second, the department’s strong international focus and international opportunities appealed to me. The department emphasizes how our work can be applied not only locally and nationally, but internationally as well. In the CYAF department, we are encouraged to be global citizens. Last, my research interests fit well with specific faculty in the department. I wanted to be able to work closely with faculty who were interested in the same issues that I am interested in.

Sarah Taylor

My research interests are intimate partner violence and violence against women. I have also worked on research projects regarding cultural competency and drug and alcohol prevention programs for youth. My teaching experiences involve being a TA for the department’s Immigrant Families class, Global Families class, and Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation class. I am also on the evaluation team for the Health Rocks! program, which is a drug prevention program for youth through the National 4-H Council.

Students in the CYAF department have many opportunities for international involvement. I have had the opportunity to go on two study abroad trips. I went to India in May 2014 to study the global issue of human trafficking. I also visited China in May 2015 to study Chinese families, schools, and culture. In addition to study abroad opportunities, our department frequently hosts visiting scholars and student visitors from other countries. I have had the opportunity to interact and learn from these international visitors as well.

Throughout my time in the CYAF department, teamwork and collaboration has been emphasized. I am able to learn from my advisor and other faculty, but I am also able to learn from other graduate students as well. Working closely with other students in the department has allowed me to gain both mentors and friends, which makes graduate school even more enjoyable.


Hello, my name is Tuyen Huynh and I am a comprehensive doctoral student. I’m originally from Philadelphia, PA. I obtained my undergraduate degree at Penn State University in Sociology before attending UNL. One reason that influenced my decision to attend UNL is the prestigious faculty and their multidisciplinary research interests. Another unique graduate experience would be my supportive and innovation graduate advisors, Dr. Rochelle Dalla and Dr. Julia Torquati who have helped me narrow down my research interests. My current research interest looks at how the constructs of mindfulness and nature impact well-being (e.g., psychological, social, physical, etc). A better understanding of how people experience nature in relation to their life can inform us new ways to help promote more human-nature relationships. Ideally, I hope my research can contribute to the fields of nature education and early childhood education.


CEHS offers numerous international opportunities. During my first year of graduate school, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunities to be a representative for UNL as I spent two months in India and two weeks in China. These experiences have contributed to my understanding of what research fields interest me the most. In addition, being a student at UNL have been quite rewarding. The department is made up of so many supportive people who are there to help students accomplish their goals and achieve excellence in the things they are passionate about. With this kind of support, as a student it is very motivating and affirming.


Haley Hermes is in her first year of the Marriage and Family Therapy program and received her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Services from Kansas State University. She is interested in mindfulness, play therapy, attachment, healing arts, and social development particularly at a young age. The faculty's passion and encouragement towards everyone in the department coupled with the MedFT option inspired Haley to choose UNL for her graduate work. In her spare time, she enjoys ceramics, yoga, and playing with her goldendoodle, Penny.

Haley Hermes


Hi! I am a non-traditional student who came to the PhD program after working with children and families in the community as a social worker. I study early childhood development, and particularly, attachment organization among mothers and infants who are homeless. I am also interested in research methodology, and ethical considerations of doing research with young children.

In CYAF, I found a home that incorporates the multi-disciplinary expertise I need to serve children and families with diverse backgrounds. Before applying to CYAF, I investigated other programs- psychology, public health, sociology- but found the best fit in this department. It offers the flexibility to follow my interests and the personal attention from advisors to keep my program on track.

Ann Matthews

I am a non-traditional student with a mortgage and children. After meeting my fellow students, my anxiety about being an adult learner with outside responsibilities quickly melted as I connected with a diverse student body. I feel fortunate to belong to this group of students and professors who value critical conversation, divergent perspective-taking, and interdisciplinary collaboration. As an individual, I feel supported; as a nascent researcher and academic, I feel challenged; as a person- I feel enriched.