Marcela chose to attend Penn State’s clinical psychology doctoral program because of its leading national reputation, its training focus on the integration of research and practice, and its collegial and collaborative working environment. Marcela thrived in the training environment at the Child Study Center, including the research mentorship of Dr. Bierman, the clinical training provided in the Psychological Clinic, and the rich discussions and support provided by the interdisciplinary community of faculty and graduate student colleagues. Throughout most of her time in the program (2004-2009), Marcela worked on the Head Start REDI project, under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Bierman. She gained critical experience with Head Start interventions and learned the research methods used to study school readiness. She completed her master’s thesis, co-wrote a book chapter on social skill training interventions, and co-authored two other papers on early social-emotional development. In her third year of graduate study, Marcela was invited to participate as a research team member in a national Head Start study (Head Start CARES) evaluating preschool enrichment programs. The resources made available by the Friends of the CSC were invaluable; with support from the Robert and Ruth Faris fund, Marcela was able to attend national and international conferences, and visit model programs to observe and discuss early childhood intervention strategies. Marcela’s research efforts culminated in an innovative dissertation project in which she partnered with three Pennsylvania school districts to design, implement, and evaluate an early intervention program for children who entered school with poor attention skills. Marcela completed her clinical internship and a year of postdoctoral clinical training at Yale Child Study Center in June of 2012. She also completed additional Postdoctoral training with the Child Trauma Program at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado – Denver, School of Medicine, where she was involved in intervention and implementation research, training, consultation, and clinical supervision. She was promoted to Instructor of Pediatrics within the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2014, while still at the Kempe Center. In 2015, she moved to the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder as a Research Associate and also became an approved National Trainer for Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She conducts research on relationship-based prevention strategies and intervention programs for at-risk or trauma-exposed children and families, and regularly provides training, consultation and coaching to parents, educators and mental health professionals in evidence-based trauma-focused interventions and relationship-based strategies for building resilience in children, youth, families and within schools. She has carved out a long-term career plan which involves early intervention and prevention research, training, and clinical practice to promote resilience and wellbeing for at-risk populations.
We wish her well as she pursues this ambitious and exciting career!