How did you become interested in human development?
I had and still have so many unresolved questions about human development, so my own curiosity triggered my interest. Since a young age, I wanted to understand why some humans fare well in life while others experience so many challenges. I chose to study human development because I wanted to learn practical ways to help others progress in life.
What type of research are you currently doing?
Drawing from publicly available databases, I recently completed a study to determine if the California Local Control Funding Formula is allocating per-student educational funding as intended. Findings indicate that school districts that serve the highest percentage of California Indians receive the same amount of per-student funding as the districts that serve the highest percentage of White students. Yet, while both groups are situated in rural areas, White families have at least twice the wealth (family income and home values) than California Indian families. I was interested in this topic because there seems to be a common assumption that American Indians get more school funding than other groups, but I disproved this idea.
I am also interested in action research because it is a collaborative process for improving practice. With my colleagues from the Kinesiology Department, Hyun Gu Kang and Shoko Hino, and support from students from the Kinesiology and Human Development Departments, we have been applying an innovative therapy program at San Marcos Senior Activity Center over the last three years. Our findings indicate that older adults benefit physically, cognitively and socially from the program. It’s very encouraging to see how powerful this kind of therapy can be. Several of our clients are over 90 years old! We’re continuing to use feedback from the participants to improve practice and we’re collecting physio- and psychometric data to track progress.
What do you hope students take away from your classes at the end of each semester?
I hope students will develop a broader understanding of factors associated with health disparities among the various populations. I want them to understand the socio-political dynamics of discrimination and structural inequality, and the benefits of privilege. I hope they acquire empathy for the underserved and remain conscientious citizens.
What is the greatest reward of your job?
I love interacting with students. The Human Development Department attracts students who are genuinely interested in improving the quality of life. They’re curious, internally motivated, and eager to apply their skills. I also love working with faculty colleagues across the campus and in the community. What we’re doing is so beneficial to society. I feel very privileged to be part of CSUSM.