Rachel Acereto (psychology BA ’15) received her master’s degree in infant mental health on the accelerated psychology major track. She worked in the lab her senior year, assisting faculty and graduate students with their research. Her research interests include developmental psychology, psychopathology, attachment theory, intergenerational transmission of attachment patterns, and the effects of maternal psychopathology on caregiving and attachment. Her master’s thesis examined the associations between attachment trauma, psychological well-being, maternal self-efficacy, and mothers’ representations of caregiving. Rachel is currently working at the Epiphany Center in San Francisco as the family enrichment project coordinator, where she provides parenting education and facilitates weekly playgroups for children and their families. Eventually, Rachel plans to pursue a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis in art therapy and a doctorate in clinical developmental psychology, combining her passions for direct service and research. She is interested in expanding research on maternal and family mental health, caregiving representations, developmental risk factors, and the attachment relationship.
Rachana Ali was a psychology major on the accelerated infant mental health master’s degree track. She completed her Mills BA in 2015 and her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2016. She assisted with research projects in the lab and completed her developmental practicum in the Mills Children’s School during fall of her senior year. Rachana is interested in how parent-child attachment relationships lay the foundation for adult reciprocal attachment relationships with their partners or spouses. She plans to use her education in infant mental health to help support healthy parent-child relationships and developmental competence in families at risk, and spread awareness of the importance of attachment relationships in Fiji.
Kelly Dwyer (MA ’16) came to Mills with a BS in technical management and minors in international relations and meteorology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After becoming a mother in 2008, Kelly began taking child development courses and volunteered in the NICU at California Pacific Medical Center. Kelly completed her IMH internship at Alameda Family Services/Early Head Start, working in home- and center-based locations. Her work helped strengthen relationships among parents and children, promote communication with teachers, and support individualized development. Her master’s research studied co-sleeping and associations of maternal attitudes about sleeping arrangements, maternal separation anxiety, and infant temperament. Kelly currently works in a home-based preschool that thrives in supporting social interactions and enriching play as the true work of children.
Constance Jaramillo was a psychology major on the accelerated infant mental health master’s degree track. She completed her Mills BA in 2015 and her MA in infant mental health in 2016. Constance transferred to Mills College as a sophomore from Merritt College where she focused on courses in early childhood education. She worked in the lab during her junior year, assisting master’s degree students with their research. Constance’s thesis investigated empathy and prosocial behavior in young children in relationship to their attachment security and family risk factors. Constance plans to work in the field with at risk families. She will ultimately use her master’s thesis and extensive field work to apply for a doctoral clinical/developmental program to continue her goals to do research related to children and families at risk.
Britta Shine was a graduate student combining the Infant Mental Health and Child Life in Hospitals master’s degree programs, and she completed the dual program requirements in fall 2015. She came to Mills with a BA in women’s studies from Smith College. Before returning to school to pursue a graduate degree, Britta worked with children with autism and then spent five years as a preschool teacher. Britta completed her IMH practicum (2014-2015) as an intern at the Infant-Parent Program (IPP) at San Francisco General Hospital, working as a therapeutic shadow for children in preschools in need of intervention. Her research interests include attachment theory, hospitalized infants and young children, and the role of environment in mediating behavior and growth. Britta’s future plans are to work with community clinics and outreach programs for under-served populations, helping families to identify developmental strengths and problems that can be addressed through early intervention.
Rachel Tissell was a psychology major on the accelerated infant mental health master’s degree track. She completed her Mills BA in 2015 and will complete her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2016. Rachel transferred to Mills as a junior from Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington. She worked in the lab during her junior year, assisting master’s degree students with their research. Rachel’s master’s thesis examines how trauma, stress, and psychiatric symptoms are related to mothers’ caregiving representations and behaviors, and how these experiences contribute to intergenerational transmission of parenting and development in young children. She plans to continue her education to pursue a doctoral degree in developmental psychology. Long-term, Rachel has her sights set on the screening and diagnoses of mental health and developmental disorders in infancy and early childhood in the context of culture and community.
Shiyu Zhang earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in May 2016. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology and a minor in sociology from University of Minnesota. During these years, she was a research assistant in several psychology labs. Her own research interests included environmental factors that predict juvenile delinquency and preventions and interventions for delinquent behaviors. After graduation, she participated in Dr. Carol George’s Adult Attachment Protective System training at Mills College. Shiyu plans to continue her education and research in clinical psychology at a doctoral level and ultimately become a therapist that works with at-risk youth and their families.
Natalie Brazeau (MA ’15) came to Mills with a BA in psychology and sociology from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. During her time at Mills, Natalie completed her community internship at Prenatal to Three, where she provided mental health services to at-risk families and young children in San Mateo County. In this position, she worked with infant-parent dyads in supporting developing relationships, conducted developmental assessments, and implemented and evaluated treatment plans and interventions. Natalie is now the director of a state-funded preschool and before- and after-school program in Davis, California, where she promotes play-based learning through a Reggio Emilia lens. In addition to her full-time job, Natalie is also in the process of publishing her master’s thesis, titled The Association between Compromised Caregiving, Social Support, and Maternal Self-Efficacy.
Kathryn Bianco (MA ’15) came to Mills with a BA in psychology from Marist College. During her second year, Katie interned at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Center for the Vulnerable Child. There she conducted developmental assessments of young children, birth through six years, who had been placed in Alameda County’s Family Reunification System. Her master’s thesis examined the maternal representations of mothers of children with autism compared with those of mothers of typically developing children. Katie is currently employed by the Merrick Library in Merrick, New York.
Elizabeth Burger earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2015. Elizabeth transferred to Mills from the New School for Social Research in New York City where she worked as a research assistant in The Center for Attachment Research. In her junior year, Elizabeth worked in the lab assisting with faculty and master’s thesis projects, including helping to run lab studies and preparing and coding data for analysis. Elizabeth's thesis research examines the intersection of technology and parenting, with a particular interest in the role social media as a form of parent support. Elizabeth plans to apply her infant mental health experience to intervention in preschool settings after completing her education at Mills.
Meghan Hinsch earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2015. Meghan’s thesis examines the intergenerational transmission of the quality of child-parent attachment relationships in parental intact and separated families. She plans to use her education in infant mental health in child and family advocacy in the courts.
Liz Walker (psychology BA ’13, IMH MA ’15) came to Mills with an AA from the Peralta Community Colleges. Her thesis research examined the role of caregivers’ adult attachment, self-efficacy, and hostility in parenting. She plans to become a licensed psychotherapist who works with current and prospective parents to help them examine their childhood experiences and current setbacks to implement change that supports successful parenting. She is currently in a master’s counseling program with the Wright Institute in Berkeley while completing an internship with East Bay Community Recovery Project - Project Pride. Liz works as a counselor to women in the residential program for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. All the clients are either mothers of children ages birth to seven years or pregnant.
Brita Bookser (MA ’14) is a Research Analyst II at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. Brita’s specialization in infant mental health informs her work on a range of studies and research initiatives. She is particularly invested in working on projects that develop, implement, and evaluate systems of learning and teaching supports for economically and socially underserved populations. Prior to joining SRI in 2014, Brita held a clinical internship at the UCSF Infant-Parent Program, where she collaborated with educators, parents, and mental health consultants to implement therapeutic early intervention supports for at-risk children within the preschool classroom milieu. Brita’s master’s thesis research focused on early childhood food refusal. She examined how maternal stress, maternal eating attitudes, and child sensory processing behaviors differed between groups of mother-child dyads in which children were considered picky or non-picky eaters. In the future, Brita hopes to build on her background in psychology and infant mental health by studying educational access, equity, and achievement and continuing to work with children, families, and educators.
Molly Enzminger earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2014. Her master’s thesis research examined the maternal representations of pregnant women whose babies were conceived using artificial reproductive technology. Molly completed her internship at Epiphany Center in San Francisco where she provided relationship-based care to infants and toddlers and led parenting groups. She worked at Epiphany Center as their family enrichment project coordinator following completion of her master’s degree. Currently, Molly works at Bright Horizons in Berkeley, California, as an education coordinator for infants and toddlers. She ensures that the teaching team provides a safe and nurturing environment for children that encourages their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. She also helps implement developmentally appropriate curriculum and provide leadership and training for staff.
Christine Julian earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2014. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology from University of California, Davis. Christine’s thesis research examined on how a range of maternal factors, including current social support, were associated with caregiving helplessness in mothers of preterm infants. After graduating from Mills, Christine accepted a position at the Community Child Care Council (4Cs) of Alameda County as an R&R coordinator of inclusion services. This position helped families with children with special needs to locate child care and other community resources. Christine’s current position in 4Cs is as a developmental screening coach. She provides coaching and technical assistance to early care and education providers to support them in implementing developmental screening into their programs using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires.
Shoshie Kupferman combined the Mills Infant Mental Health Master’s Degree Program with the Early Childhood Special Education Credential Program and completed her dual program requirements in fall 2014. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Shoshie’s thesis research focused on parent-child relationships and how they are affected by a child’s special-needs diagnosis. Shoshie interned at the Parent Infant Program (PIP) at Children’s Hospital, Oakland, working with infants and toddlers with special needs and their families. She is currently working as a teacher in the Alameda Unified School District, providing services to three-, four-, and five-year-old children with mild to severe special needs. Shoshie hopes to continue providing services to families with young at-risk children in the years to come.
Ashley Newton received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2014. She came to Mills with her BA in child development from Humboldt State University. Her master’s thesis examined the intersections of attachment representation, trauma, and body-awareness. Ashley is currently continuing her research on attachment in collaboration with Dr. George. She is also building a private practice and using mindfulness and body-awareness to strengthen the adult-child relationship. Her work supports caregivers in forming sensitive, authentic, and fulfilling relationships with young children.
Jenna Ornbaun graduated with a BA in psychology from the University of California, Davis, in 2006. Before coming to Mills, she worked extensively throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with children and their families. Her graduate practicum placement was working as a mental health intern at Yu Ming Charter School, a Mandarin-immersion elementary in Oakland, California. Jenna’s thesis research examined the attunement and relationship dynamics between parents and non-parental caregivers. After graduation, Jenna continued at Yu Ming Charter School as the child developmental specialist. She is now the bridge children’s program specialist at Raphael House, a family homeless shelter in San Francisco where she provides resources and implements programming for under-served families in the San Francisco Bay Area. During her free time she advocates for the rights and needs of families, children, and caregivers in the SF Bay Area.
Sasha Guillory earned her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2013. She came to Mills with her BA in psychology from Bryn Mawr College. Prior to entering Mills, Sasha worked with young children on the autism spectrum. Sasha’s thesis research examined the family and environmental contributions to infant and toddler sleep problems and the intersection of sleep problems with social emotional development. She was an intern at Early Childhood Mental Health Program in Richmond where she worked with young at-risk children. She also was an intern at the Early Head Start-Home Base Program with the Unity Council in Oakland providing early intervention home visits and socializations. Sasha is currently working as a behavior technician at Positive Pathways, providing family-focused ABA therapy for children on the autism spectrum. She is currently applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology.
Liliana Gonzalez (psychology BA ’12) was on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major master’s track (MA ’13). As an undergraduate, Liliana was an active member of student organizations working to create community and support networking for students on the Mills campus. She worked as a student advocate and resident assistant and also collaborated with other students to create discourse and events linked to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Liliana’s thesis research examined the perceptions and involvement of fathers of Mexican heritage with their infants. Liliana completed her IMH internship at Epiphany Center in San Francisco, working with mothers of children from infancy to age three in relationship-based intervention. Liliana’s path after Mills included three years as program coordinator for the Home Visiting and Disabilities service areas for the Unity Council’s Head Start Programs in Concord, California. There she provided comprehensive services to infants, toddlers, and their families, including home visits and socializations to support and promote growth and development. Liliana’s current position is with First 5 Contra Costa working as the Help Me Grow program coordinator. She is engaged in program development and systems level work to promote universal developmental screening and to ensure families and children get connected to appropriate services.
Jennifer Keeling (psychology BA ’12, MA ’13) was on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major master’s track, transferring to Mills from Berkeley City College. Jennifer worked 13 years in mental health with children diagnosed with emotional disturbance, which led to her interest in early intervention and the Infant Mental Health Program. Her thesis research explored the contributions of a mother’s life experiences, perceptions, and beliefs about parenting to her relationship with her young child. Jennifer was an intern at the Infant Parent Program in San Francisco, which provides mental health services to at-risk families and young children. Jennifer plans to work with the Native American community in the San Francisco Bay Area to strengthen families by providing culturally sensitive early intervention services and expanding community resources for parents and caregivers.
Sonya Messina was a graduate student in the Mills Infant Mental Health Master’s Degree Program and completed her degree in 2013. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Sonya was an intern at Kidango (Fremont, California) working in two inclusive classrooms for typically developing and special-needs children between the ages of 18 months to three years. She learned about conducting assessments, as well as taking part in home-visits with children and their families. Sonya’s future plans are to work in the community with children and their families in home-visiting programs. Currently, Sonya is working as an infant development specialist for Kidango's Early Intervention Program. She is working with children from birth to age three years with developmental delay and a variety of diagnoses. Additionally, Sonya is continuing her thesis research focused on the factors and constraints that influence grandmothers in the role of providing kinship care for their grandchildren.
Emile Martin (psychology BA ’12, MA ’13) was on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major master’s track, transferring to Mills from Chabot Community College. Her thesis research examined how mothers respond to and feel about babies’ states. Emile was an intern at Pre-to-Three in San Mateo, which provides mental health services to mothers and children ranging in age from newborn to five years old. Emile’s goals are to work within the Latino community helping families strengthen their relationships through early intervention services.
Ariadne Nelson (psychology BA ’12, MA ’13) came to Mills as a first-year student with an interest in development. She assisted with faculty and student research in the ECFR Lab, and was the lab manager for one year. Ari completed her IMH internship at Epiphany Center in San Francisco, working in early intervention and relationship-based care for children from infancy to age three. Ari’s master’s thesis research examined family contributors to cognitive development and delay of gratification in four-year-olds. As an early childhood assessor for SRI International, Ari also supported research funded by the PBS Kids’ Ready to Learn Initiative evaluating the effectiveness of media-based curricula in supporting low-income preschoolers’ early math literacy skills. After graduating, Ari worked—first as an intern and later as a research associate—at Resource Development Associates, a consulting firm that does research and program evaluation for local government agencies and nonprofits. Ari is currently a second-year doctoral student at Boston College pursuing a degree in applied developmental and educational psychology. She is involved with two research projects that are part of the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education (DREME) Network, a multi-university collaboration funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation. The first project examines the relation between young children’s executive functioning and math literacy, and the second project investigates parent contributions to early math learning. In collaboration with her DREME Network colleagues, Ari is evaluating the effectiveness of curricula designed to advance simultaneously preschoolers’ math and executive functioning competence and examining the relation of parents’ math anxiety to the quantity and quality of math support they provide during play.
Jessica Brennan (psychology BA ’11, IMH MA ’12) completed her master’s degree on the accelerated IMH psychology track. Her research studied the association between mothers’ perceptions of their parenting experiences and maternal stress and their children’s developmental strengths and risks in a sample of mothers of children between the ages of one-and-a-half and eleven years. Following Mills, Jessica entered doctoral graduate study in the School of Psychology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England; she will graduate in 2017. Jessica has been able to continue to extend her research by investigating caregiving representations in women during the transition to motherhood. In addition to her postgraduate study, Jessica teaches undergraduate introductory psychology classes, classes on attachment and caregiving, and developmental psychology.
Amelia Newton Grosu (psychology BA ’10, MA ’12, MSW) is well-poised for clinical settings in infant mental health. She is endorsed by the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health as an advanced transdisciplinary infant-family and early childhood mental health practitioner. Amelia’s infant mental health master’s research studied fathers’ views of self as competent parents as influenced by the co-parenting relationship, parental alliance, and father postpartum depression. She is the intake coordinator for WestCoast Children’s Clinic in Oakland, California. Amelia says, “Completing the thesis study gave me specialized knowledge on parenthood, which informs the way I approach and interact with my clients and their young children. I also have more confidence as an infant mental health professional working with families.” She currently continues to research fathers’ parenting experiences of young children in collaboration with Dr. Carol George.
Cheryl Sundheim (psychology BA, Spanish minor, ’11; MA ’12) was on the accelerated IMH master’s degree psychology track. Prior to resuming her education, Cheryl worked with children with autism. This experience underscored the positive effects of early intervention in a child’s life. Cheryl says, “The Infant Mental Health Program offered the right combination of psychology, attachment theory, research, and early childhood education” to achieve her goal of working with children and families at risk. Her master’s research studied maternal perceptions of infants’ emotional needs and spoiling as predictors of child abuse risk. Cheryl works as director of children’s services at Epiphany Center in San Francisco, which serves women in recovery from substance use disorder and their children (prenatal to age three years). She plans, develops, directs, and evaluates all children’s services programs—Parent-Child Center, Family Enrichment Project, and the pediatric and mental health clinics. She also works directly with mother-child dyads and provides parenting education. Cheryl also says, “My thesis research punctuated the importance of supporting the relationship between mother and child and of acknowledging the mother as the expert on her child.” Cheryl’s other roles in the field are as an adjunct faculty member in the Child Development Department of Foothill College and a master judge for the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System. Cheryl has published, with program co-director Dr. Perez, a paper on clinical practices in early relational trauma in the Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy (2015) and presented on this topic at the Zero to Three 30th National Training Institute.
Lydia Adkins received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2011. She first witnessed the transformative power of early intervention while volunteering at a domestic violence shelter with trauma exposed infants and toddlers. Lydia says, “I was inspired to pursue a degree at Mills after an admission counselor listened to my professional aspirations and suggested the Infant Mental Health Program might be a good fit. It proved to be a perfect one.” Lydia’s master’s thesis involved close examination of micro interactions between mothers and children in order to investigate correlations among maternal interactive behaviors and concurrent child outcomes. Lydia completed a two-year internship placement at the Infant Parent Program, where she worked as a therapeutic shadow trainee. Most recently, Lydia earned an MA in counseling psychology at the Wright Institute and accepted a position with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. This position serves children and caregivers in child welfare throughout Alameda County. Lydia is excited to now apply the rich theoretical and practical training she received at Mills in her new role as a child-parent psychotherapist.
Natasha Hartman (psychology BA ’08) received her master's degree in infant mental health in 2011. While studying attachment theory, early childhood development, and psychobiology as a Mills undergraduate, Natasha became interested in the importance of early childhood development and the field of infant mental health. Natasha continued to explore these themes in the context of parent-child relationships and teacher-child relationships in graduate school. During her internship placement, Natasha supported the implementation of a social-emotional based pilot program in an Early Head Start and a Head Start classroom. Her master’s research explored the contribution of teachers’ emotion-regulation, complexity of thinking, and job satisfaction to their caregiving sensitivity. Natasha is currently working in Early Head Start centers in Oakland and Concord, California. She coaches and trains teachers, conducts parenting classes, performs classroom assessments, analyzes programmatic data, and supports programmatic changes designed to strengthen teacher-child relationships, parent-child relationships, and child outcomes. In addition, Natasha works as an independent contractor, providing consultation in the field of early childhood education through conducting federal reviews of Head Start programs nationally and conducting classroom assessments locally. Lastly, Natasha has a private coaching practice in which she offers individualized coaching to a variety of individuals, including parents.
Sabra Melamed (psychology BA ’05, MA ’11) has worked since completing her master’s degree as an early childhood educator. In 2014 she moved to Switzerland, where she became a parent and started what she likes to call the “ultimate practicum in IMH.” She is currently finishing her MBA in international health management at the University of Basel, where she has discovered a love for public health and is researching resilience among Eritrean asylum-seekers in Switzerland. Eventually she hopes to combine both fields and work as an administrator in an early intervention program.
Samantha Reisz (psychology BA, ’10; IMH MA ’11) completed her master’s degree on the accelerated IMH psychology track. She went on to a PhD program in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, from which she will graduate in December 2016. Samantha’s IMH master’s thesis at Mills focused on women’s experiences of childbirth and motherhood. Her work on childbirth continued at the University of Texas, and an adapted version of her Mills thesis was published in Infant Mental Health Journal in 2015. During her time at UT, Samantha served as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Marriage and Family. She has taught classes on infant, child, and life-span development at both the University of Texas and Mills, and will be teaching at Mills again in the spring of 2017. Samantha has conducted research on attachment, disorganization, caregiving, trauma and maternal depression. Her dissertation focuses on changes in mothers’ attachment security across the transition to parenthood. After graduation, she will expand that study to fathers. She will also conduct part-time postdoctoral research on infant disorganized attachment and maternal caregiving, in collaboration with colleagues at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
Janelle Rohl-Bistue received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2010. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology and Spanish from UC Davis, having heard about the Mills program from a UC Davis colleague. Janelle’s internship at Pre-to-Three in San Mateo provided first-hand experience in counseling mothers with children under the age of five who were suffering from many issues including but not limited to post-partum depression, and children with special needs. This experience was intertwined with her master’s thesis research in which she examined the relationship between post-partum depression and mothers’ decisions to breast or bottle feed their infants. Janelle took a position as head teacher in the Infant/Toddler room in the Mills College Children’s School for two years following the completion of her master’s degree. Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom for her baby daughter born in June 2015. Janelle says, “Having this degree has not only expanded my knowledge infinitely regarding early childhood but has opened my eyes as a new parent in ways I would have never known. My master’s research made me extremely passionate about breastfeeding and attachment parenting and I hope to continue my research in the coming years as I apply to a PhD program for 2016.”
Cynthia Martinez-Roberts received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2010. Cynthia interned at Infant Parent Program in San Francisco General Hospital where she collaborated in leading a group for infants and their mothers of trauma and served as a therapeutic shadow by providing support and intervention to individual preschool children with challenging behaviors. Cynthia’s master's research and professional experiences have significantly involved working with the local Latino community. Her master’s thesis was the first study to explore the emotions of Latina mothers during the inoculation process. After completing her degree, she worked as a child development specialist and headed an Early Head Start home-based program for Brighter Beginnings in Richmond, California. Cynthia next worked as the Community Resource Specialist for the Antioch First 5 Center. Presently, Cynthia is working as an early childhood mental health consultant for Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay. Additionally she is working as a practitioner, facilitating parent groups, for an evidenced-based parenting program, Triple P through COPE Family Support Center. Cynthia says, “My master’s research and experience in early childhood taught me how important and essential it is that parents be loving and responsive with their children and their varying needs for children’s most optimal development.”
Aki Raymer (psychology BA ’08) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2009. Aki Raymer was part of the second cohort of IMH students to graduate from the program. She found work as a mental health consultant for Head Start and as a home visitor for Through the Looking Glass. In 2010 Aki opened her own practice with a focus on supporting families through coaching, workshops, and courses. She lives with her partner and her daughter in Oakland. You can find out more about Aki and her work at www.parentingpaths.com.