In 1989, Carolyn Thomas, a longtime BC Social Work Professor and PhD Program Chair, established a fellowship fund for doctoral students at the school, providing financial support to help encourage them to successfully complete their studies. The 2017 recipients of the fellowship are PhD candidates Adeline Wyman Battalen and Christina Sellers.
Battalen, who plans to graduate in 2018, is interested in the mental health and well-being of families, especially diverse families. Her dissertation examines lesbian, gay, and heterosexual adoptive parents’ beliefs, perceptions, and experiences and the extent to when and how parental sexual orientation influences parenting practices and relationships. Battalen’s mentor is Ruth McRoy.
“I am very fortunate to have Ruth as my mentor,” she explains. “Ruth has introduced me to the field of child welfare scholarship and participation in the world of academia. She has taken me under her wing as her Teaching Assistant at the Master’s level with the Adoption & Foster Care course and at the Doctoral level with the Social Welfare Policy course. As her Research Assistant, I have the opportunity to conduct mixed methods research on a longitudinal study examining openness in adoption. It has truly been a privilege to learn from Ruth and have her as my guide and constant source of encouragement throughout my time at BC.”
Sellers, who aims to also complete her degree next year, has focused her work around three broad areas of research: substance use among adolescents; suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adolescents; and adoption and foster care. “While each of my research areas have distinct areas of focus,” she tells BCSSW, “my dissertation and future work hopes to bring together these three areas of research to focus in on youth and adolescence in a new way. Specifically, to examine the relationship between substance use and suicide among maltreated youth.”
Sellers’ mentor is Professor Tom O’Hare whom she says has “been great to work with. Tom gives me space to develop my own thoughts and research agenda, while providing necessary guidance.”
“Being awarded the Carolyn Thomas Fellowship is an honor and a privilege,” she adds. “It means a lot to have my work supported and validated from the Boston College community. In addition, the financial support provided through the fellowship will help by allowing me to focus in on my dissertation over the next year.