Category Archives: Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Master’s Candidate Libby Hunt

Each month, our Outreach Team highlights a current student who is innovating to positively advance the department’s mission while excelling in their studies at Tufts.

This month, Outreach Coordinator Nick Woolf interviewed Libby Hunt, who just completed the first year of her Master’s program, to learn more about her experiences at E-P.

Who: Libby Hunt

Graduation Year: 2021

Program: Child Studies and Human Development, M.A. Candidate

Nick: Tell me about your path — what brought you to Tufts, and what were you doing prior to enrolling?

Libby: My journey to graduate school was a little all over the place. I worked in a number of different fields between undergrad and grad school – I’ve been a server, a paralegal, an office manager, and more. Working in offices wasn’t really feeding my soul, so I started taking night classes in psychology (I was an English major in undergrad). Through those courses I became really taken with early childhood development – I was (and am) particularly interested in the impact of screens on social, emotional, and cognitive development, so I sought out a program that would help me pursue those interests. I was drawn to E-P because it is a development-specific program, and because the department’s mission resonated with my own.  

Nick: What types of research and/or applied work are you involved with at E-P?

Libby: Throughout my first year at E-P I worked as a research assistant in the DevTech research group. I was fortunate to participate in a few different types of research projects, most relating to the group’s KIBO robotics kits and how they can be implemented in K-2 classrooms. I conducted numerous ethnographic observations and gained experience in data collection. I also helped craft a curriculum for DevTech’s coding app, ScratchJr. In the fall (COVID-19 permitting) I will be interning at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, and starting my thesis research. 

Nick: How would you describe your experience as a Master’s student at E-P so far?

Libby: I feel so thankful that this is the school and the program I ended up in. I have felt so supported by the faculty, who go above and beyond to encourage our interests and help create opportunities for growth. In each course I’ve taken thus far, my foundation of developmental theory has strengthened, my perspective has broadened, and my goals for the future have become more focused. I’m also grateful to be part of a small cohort of excellent individuals who represent a broad array of interests an experiences. Throughout our first year we have learned as much from one another as we did our professors.  

Nick: Do you have any advice, tips or words of wisdom to incoming E-P students?

Libby: It’s a good idea to look at the faculty page of the website, and seek out the faculty whose research most aligns with your interests, but also be open to talking to everyone. Every professor is willing to meet with you, and everyone has worthwhile advice to offer. Try to get involved in a lab within the department – it will give you research experience and insight on where your passions lie. Attend workshops (Sasha Fleary’s workshop on being a 9-5 academic changed my life) and social events hosted by the department/masters student association. Talk to other students – second-year masters students and PhD students have all been where you are now, and are happy to answer any questions you might have/share their own experiences. Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, take care of yourself and take pride in your work. Grad school is no joke – get sleep, drink water, stay active, and know that you deserve to be here. 

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Master’s Candidate Emma Weihe

Each month, our Outreach Team highlights a current student who is innovating to positively advance the department’s mission while excelling in their studies at Tufts.

This month, Outreach Coordinator Nick Woolf interviewed second-year Master’s student Emma Weihe to learn more about her time at Tufts and passion for bringing performing arts to children with special needs.

Who: Emma Weihe

Graduation Year: 2020

Program: Child Studies and Human Development, M.A. Candidate

Emma Weihe, Class of 2020

Nick: Tell me about your path — what brought you to Tufts, and what were you doing prior to enrolling?

Emma: During my time at The Ohio State University, where I went to undergrad, I was involved in the Shakespeare and Autism Project, which utilized a specific type of drama therapy as a way to teach social skills for children on the autism spectrum. I fell in love with the work and wanted to pursue this further, but I didn’t quite know how. I was drawn to Tufts, and specifically EP, because of the program’s flexibility and interdisciplinary nature. I knew I wanted to integrate performing arts and child development, especially with children with special needs, and I knew that there were plenty of resources at Tufts and Boston that would help me figure out what I needed to do.

Nick: What types of research and/or applied work are you involved with at E-P?

Emma: I worked in Eileen Crehan’s lab over the summer and helped with her research on sex education with autistic adults. As for applied work, I am currently interning with Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) in their Access to Theatre (ATT) program. This group uses theatre to develop social, communication and self-advocacy skills for young adults with disabilities in the greater Boston area. Additionally, I am currently planning to collaborate with a local high school’s drama club to create a sensory-friendly performance for audience members who may benefit from a more relaxed setting.

Nick: What was the genesis for/inspiration behind your internship this past summer? How has the experience been continuing there during the school year?

Emma: Access to Theatre has two main programs: one in the school year that focuses more on concrete skill-building, and the Summer Institute where participants create a variety show from scratch over the course of two weeks. I had heard of this program at a conference I attended, so they were on my radar, but it wasn’t until I was connected with the people at ATT that I realized that I could get involved. The Summer Institute was a whirlwind two weeks, but in that time, I was able to observe skilled teaching artists and work with wonderful participants as we created our show together. It was important that it was a collaborative experience, because I was able to learn about the disabled experience and forming a positive identity around that label.

Being at ATT in their summer program was quite helpful in transitioning to the weekend programming. I am familiar with the main facilitators, some of the participants, and a number of the activities used in each workshop. This familiarity allows me to stay in the moment and focus on the activities and how the participants engage with them.

Nick: How would you describe your experience as part of Applied Track at E-P so far?

Emma: I love the opportunity to be a part of the applied track. It is so important to bring the real world into academic life. Often, especially as grad students, we can get sucked into bubble of academia that we lose touch with our own experiences or the people we want to help. Interning and creating a capstone rather than a thesis really helps to keep these ideas at the front of my mind as I continue through school.

Nick: Do you have any advice, tips or words of wisdom to current E-P students?

Emma: Go out and explore! Go to conferences. Try projects that might not work. Reach out to faculty at other schools in the area. You’re here to learn, why not use all the opportunities afforded to you?

Student Spotlight

Ph.D. Candidate Chevy Cook Brings Mentorship to the Military

Each month, our Outreach Team highlights a current student who is innovating to positively advance the department’s mission while excelling in their studies at Tufts.

This month, Outreach Coordinator Nick Woolf interviewed Ph.D. candidate Chaveso “Chevy” Cook to learn more about his time at E-P and his new non-profit, Military Mentors. He was also recently selected into the Institute for Nonprofit Practice’s Community Fellows Program, a pretigious one-year program that I invests in the next generation of nonprofit and community leaders dedicated to social change.

Who: Chaveso “Chevy” Cook

Graduation Year: 2021

Program: Child Studies and Human Development, Ph.D. Candidate

  • Doctoral focus on character development.
  • Advised by Professor Richard Lerner in the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development.
Chevy Cook, Class of 2021

Nick: Tell me about your path — what brought you to Tufts, and what were you doing prior to enrolling?

Chevy: I grew up in a stereotypical 80s, low SES, black neighborhood around drugs and violence. We knew “the code of the streets”, which meant not trusting authority figures, never snitching, and loyalty to your homeboys. Fast forward to college and I ended up attending the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, which touted very different paradigms; ideas like “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do”, “duty, honor, country”, and character. It changed my life and who I was. I then entered the Army, eventually returning to West Point to teach freshman psychology. After returning to the Army again for a few years I was hired for a senior teaching position, so West Point sent me to get a PhD. I now have 16 years of service in the Army, with about a dozen in the special operations community.

Nick: What types of research and/or applied work are you involved with at E-P?

Chevy: I study character development, specifically the development of cadets at my alma mater, USMA. I am the lead qualitative research assistant for Project Arete (Greek for ‘excellence’), a partnership between Tufts and USMA. It is a multi-year, multi-method, longitudinal study of the character development of West Point cadets. I also apply my studies of human development directly into my nonprofit to better shape our approach.

Nick: What was the genesis for/inspiration behind your new non-profit?

Chevy: The challenge for us is that while our military forces are uniquely trained and equipped, service members are each unique developmentally and continually need to be honed professionally. There services tend to saddle the individual with his/her own self-development, however, and hope that mentor relationships fill any gaps. Unfortunately, most of these relationships lack authenticity and developmental rigor. We find the same challenges across the corporate world. Mentoring just becomes another ask on a long to-do list; more detrimental than beneficial. A mentee of mine recognized this about five years ago and came to me to help him co-found our nonprofit so we could address this challenge. I now am the executive director. 

Nick: What is the non-profit’s mission?

Chevy: Our mission is to redefine the practice of leadership by refining the art and science of mentorship.

Nick: What is your hope in terms of future impact for Military Mentors?

Chevy: Our answer to the challenge I presented above is to stretch the conversation around mentorship to ultimately improve the never-ending developmental cycle involving leaders and leadership. We want to impact the design and implementation of developmental strategies for both leaders (individual knowledge, skills, and abilities) and their leadership (social capacities). The means for doing so currently comes via our blog, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), various publications, regular community involvement, keynote presentations (three this fall as of late), organizational consultation, and upcoming podcast.  

Nick: Do you have any advice, tips or words of wisdom to current E-P students?

Chevy: Remain present minded but future focused. Strive to live in the moment whether in class or in the lab, in Davis Square or in your dorms/apartments, connecting with the people around you. But don’t forget that you’re going somewhere, and all efforts aren’t true progress (running 50 yards the wrong way on the football field earns the other team points, for example). Enjoy Tufts but know that it can’t last forever.