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Child Studies Student Voices

Department of Psychology and Human Development

Child Studies Group

Child Studies students pursue a range of academic, research, and professional interests while enrolled in the program. Within each track and concentration, students are able to tailor their coursework and field experiences to best prepare them for their future goals.

The following profiles of current students provide a sample of the opportunities available within the M.Ed. in Child Studies program.

Hasan Clayton - Applied Professional Track Curren Student

Hasan Clayton is from Evanston, Illinois and he entered Vanderbilt University as an undergrad, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. Upon graduating, he enrolled in the Child Studies program to further his research experience, and to acquire the knowledge to make a positive impact in a professional setting. With an extensive background in athletics, his practicum placement at Backfield in Motion has given him the opportunity to gain coaching experience in sports and to do work with high-risk middle school boys, helping them navigate life through adverse circumstances. His other interests include the role of parents' interactions with the school and community, violence and aggression in youth, and the effects of poverty on development. He also contributes to a Teaching and Learning lab at Peabody, where he serves as an actor and consultant in simulations for pre-service teachers, which aim to figure out effective ways for handling Black students who feel discriminated against in the classroom. After he finishes the program, he hopes to open a sport-based non-profit organization in Chicago that aims to teach youth positive coping strategies and problem-solving abilities in order to decrease the culture of violence in local neighborhoods. 

Ashlie Fallon - Applied Professional TrackCurrent Student

Ashlie Fallon is from Mesa, Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with a double major in Psychology and Family and Human Development. Her interests include working with children and families facing chronic illness and hospitalization, specifically with children who have developmental disabilities. After earning her M.Ed., she hopes to pursue certification as a Child Life Specialist. She chose the Child Studies program because it gives her the flexibility to craft a course of studies that truly meets her interests. The Child Studies program has allowed her to gain relevant knowledge through courses like Hospitalized Child. Vanderbilt has also presented Ashlie with many hands on opportunities; next semester she is looking forward to working as a research assistant on the Canines and Childhood Cancer study at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt under the direction of Dr. Mary Jo Gilmer. This project is looking at the impacts on anxiety when receiving animal assisted therapy, for children with newly diagnosed cancer. In addition to her academic and research work, she has had the opportunity to work with the Peabody Research Institute on projects that assess the effectiveness of Pre-Kindergarten programs across the Nashville area.

Ashley Ann Marshall - Clinical and Developmental Research TrackCurrent Student Profiles

Ashley Ann Marshall is from Louisville, Kentucky and graduated from the University of Dayton in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology and Family Development. Following graduation, she enrolled in the empirical track of the Child Studies program. She is interested in the social and emotional development of children in school settings and the factors that may protect children from experiencing difficulties later on in development. She currently works with Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter in the department of Special Education as a data collector on the Embedded Instruction for Early Learning Project, where she administers educational assessments and collects and codes data. Additionally, she has been trained on the TPOT measure, which aims to promote children’s social and emotional development and to prevent challenging behaviors in preschool classrooms. She also works with Dr. Catherine Corr in her research on the abuse and neglect of young children with disabilities. With Dr. Corr, Ashley Ann is an author on an upcoming publication about young children living in poverty. The combination of research and hands-on classroom experience has refined her interests and future goals. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue her Ph.D. with a focus on child development and preventive interventions in school settings.  

Drew Porter - Clinical and Developmental Research Track Current Student

After graduating from Trevecca Nazarene University with a B.S. in Psychology, Drew worked as a mental health assistant in a residential treatment center for children and adolescents with behavioral disorders, and then as a behavior coach at a special education school for children with high intensity behaviors. Drew chose the Child Studies program because it offered the opportunity to study child and adolescent mental health and to develop skills as a researcher. Drew's research interests include suicide and self-harm behaviors, residential treatment for children and adolescents, and mindfulness-based therapies for children and adolescents. He is completing his research placement in Dr. David Cole’s lab, where he works with a doctoral student on a project investigating transdiagnostic factors related to various forms of self-harm. In the lab he is also gaining experience in various aspects of the research process such as writing IRB protocols, design construction, collecting and analyzing data, and drafting manuscripts for publication. In addition to his research placement, Drew works as a data collector for Dr. M.L. Hemmeter in the Special Education department. In this position, he is gaining experience conducting language and reading assessments of children as well as collecting and coding video data that assesses embedded instruction in Pre-K classrooms. Upon completion of the Child Studies program, Drew plans to pursue doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology. 

Caroline Waters - Applied Professional Track Current Student Profiles

Caroline Waters is from Boston, MA and completed her undergraduate degree at the College of the Holy Cross. Before starting in the Child Studies program, Caroline worked in elementary and preschools in Bozeman, MT and the Metro-Boston area. During her time as a teacher, Caroline became fascinated with children's development of social, emotional and play skills. The Child Studies program appealed to Caroline because of its flexible nature in allowing her to curate her own coursework that fit her needs and interests. Currently, Caroline is completing the Applied Behavior Analysis track in the Child Studies program. During her time so far at Vanderbilt, Caroline has worked with Peabody Research Institute as a research assessor under Dr. Dale Farran, a therapy intern at the Behavior Analysis Clinic under Dr. Joe Lambert, and a research assistant and intervention implementer at the Susan Gray School under Dr. Erin Barton. Upon completion of the program, Caroline hopes to work with behavior analysis and social-emotional learning in early childhood in either Colorado or her native New England.