Spotlight
Recognition of Connection Between a Failed Education and Serious Life Problems Led to Doctoral Study in Learning, Cognition, and Development
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Briana Hinga
Ph.D. Student

Irvine, Calif., January 1, 2010

Briana Hinga graduated from the honors program in psychology at UC San Diego (UCSD) in 2006, where she discovered her passion for understanding human development. Her senior thesis investigated infant visual development. This project gave Briana insight into genetic and environmental influences of development and inspired her to further pursue psychological research. Upon graduation, Briana joined the San Diego Prospective Study, a research group lead by UCSD Research Marc Schuckit, who examines longitudinal genetic and environmental influences of alcoholism.

It was through this research and the opportunity (afforded by Dr. Schuckit) to witness inpatient interviews of men admitted to the Drug and Alcohol Treatment center at the VA Hospital that Briana noticed a common link between serious life troubles and a failed education. She continued to see the pattern of life difficulties in conjunction with a failed education through her experience as an adult literacy tutor for the San Diego Public Library System. These experiences fueled Briana's desire to understand how these troubled life trajectories may have been altered if the individuals were given the opportunities afforded by a successful education.

Now, as Briana continues her own education as a second year doctoral student in the Department of Education at UC Irvine, each course, expert lecture, research group meeting, and discussion with faculty and students opens her eyes to the multitude of obstacles as well as potential solutions to effectively educating diverse individuals. Briana's interests include both classroom and out of school experiences. As a two sport collegiate athlete as well as a professional beach volleyball player, Briana believes that organized activity involvement plays a role in both education and positive youth development.

Following her interest in out-of-school time and under the supervision of Joseph Mahoney, Briana's first year project evaluated the experiences of undergraduate students enrolled in the Certificate in After-school Education (CASE) program at UCI. She and Dr. Mahoney will present research findings at the 2010 Annual Meeting of The American Educational Research Association in Denver this spring.

Currently, Briana is dedicated to carving a niche for herself in the vast field of education. She aspires to pursue a research oriented academic career where she can further examine the link between education and positive youth development and possibly work toward the implementation of successful educational practices.