Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Tiyobista Maereg

Headshot of Tiyobista Maereg

Tiyobista Maereg is a fourth-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. Her primary research interest is the role of context in the ethnic-racial identity development of Black youth, in particular, Black immigrant youth and Black girls. Her advisor is Dr. Dawn Witherspoon.

Tiyobista received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology & Political Science as a McNair Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research has examined how parental ethnic-racial socialization messages mediate the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and self-esteem for African American adolescents, where neighborhood characteristics were assessed using both objective and subjective measures. Along with her co-authors, Tiyobista also researched how neighborhood structural and social characteristics moderated adolescent perception of parental ethnic-racial socialization and adolescent self-system. Among their findings were the indication that neighborhood diversity could undermine the promotive factor of cultural socialization. Tiyobista and co-first-author, Shadane Johnson, presented these results as part of a symposium for the Society for Research on Child Development’s Biennial Meeting in 2021. Her master’s thesis focused on the connection between neighborhoods, ethnic-racial identity, and academic expectations. Tiyobista pursued a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies so she could be better equipped to delineate the gendered experiences of Black boys and Black girls through an interdisciplinary and feminist perspective. She received a Center for Humanities & Information Predoctoral Fellowship to conduct a study exploring how the relationship between context and ethnic-racial identity manifests in Black girls. She is currently working on a project with Dr. Naila Smith from the University of Virginia examining how the context of reception shapes Black immigrants’ developmental outcomes. Her dissertation will focus on exploring the relationship between context, ethnic-racial identity, and academic outcomes with Black immigrant adolescents. She has had three papers published/in press and has had five conference presentations.

The Strumpf Scholar Award will provide Tiyobista with more time and resources to finalize her dissertation and manuscripts currently in preparation. She plans to attend the Latent Class/Cluster Analysis Workshop held by Curran & Bauer Analytics, where she will gain the methodological skills to conduct cluster analyses to generate ethnic-racial identity statuses. This type of research will require Tiyobista to purchase an updated laptop computer with the capacity to run current statistical software. The Strumpf Scholar Award will make this purchase possible and will greatly support Tiyobista’s plan for a career committed to culturally- and contextually- informed research with the goal of bettering the lives of minoritized individuals and families.