Laurel Benjamin ’21 is returning to her home state of California to coordinate studies and interventions for parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Benjamin’s new job is as a project coordinator in Cameron Neece’s lab at Loma Linda University.
The lab is developing and testing a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention for parents of children with developmental delays. It involves teaching parents formal and informal mindfulness exercises to reduce parental stress and improve behavior outcomes for children.
“As a research position that examines stress and coping among predominantly Latinx participants, I am looking forward to combining my psychology research interests in stress, coping, and family processes with the linguistic and cultural knowledge acquired from my Spanish major,” said Benjamin. “I’m excited to use my experience as a project coordinator to further hone these research interests.”
In addition to using the skills she gained as a psychology and Spanish double major and a statistics minor, Benjamin will draw from her experience co-founding and leading Best Buddies, a club that matches Haverford students in a one-to-one friendship with an individual with special needs.
“Individuals with developmental delays are vastly underrepresented in existing psychology research and very few studies have focused on the parents’ well-being as a potential mechanism through which to improve children’s behavioral outcomes,” she said. “I’m excited to be a part of this cutting-edge research and to put my experience with Best Buddies to good use.”
In a few years, Benjamin plans to take the leadership skills and hands-on clinical research experience she gains in this position to pursue her Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.