Dr. Teru Toyokawa became new Chair of the Human Development Department at CSUSM this school year

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How did you become interested in human development?
While I was doing my clinical internship for my graduate training as a clinical psychologist, I came to realize that how my clients were influenced by their family members and other relationships they had at school, in the neighborhood, and with their communities. Then, when I found that Human Development is the field of study that focuses on people’s development with an emphasis of the interactions between the developing person and context/environment, I thought that that emphasis and perspective just made sense to me.

What type of research are you doing?
My major research interest lies in developmental issues among youth during the transitional period from adolescence to adulthood in various cultures. I conduct research in emerging adults’ formation of identity, particularly the antecedents and outcomes of career identity among emerging adults. I also conduct cross-cultural studies in young people’s conception of adulthood (e.g., what adult means and how they get to know when they become an adult).

What inspired you to choose that area of research?
When I was a graduate student, I became fascinated by how developmental researchers attempted to study people’s ‘changes’ across life. Some of the studies that I read about how changes occur and how environmental factors explain differences among people in developmental trajectories excited me about the field. People experience a variety of changes when they go through life transitions. And for me, the transition from adolescence to young adulthood was one of the most challenging periods in my life so far so that I wanted to understand this transitional period further to help young people navigate the transition through contributing to the field.

What do you hope students take away from your classes at the end of each semester?
Studying Human Development helps you better understand yourself. I would be happy if students in my class would understand themselves better when they leave my classes than they did before taking my class.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
Catching up with changing students’ needs and interests, their goals in learning, and meeting them using changing technologies.

What is the greatest reward of your job?
Seeing the education, career, and personal success of students whom I taught. I am always delighted to hear from students after they graduate.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I ran the Boston Marathon twice!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Running, knitting, and playing an out-of-tune jazz guitar

What’s the best part about working at CSUSM?
Working with students, faculty, and staff who come from such diverse cultural backgrounds.