Doctoral Student Spotlights

Esther Marron

PsyD Candidate, School/Child Psychology

Prior to entering the School/Child Psychology Program in 2001, Esther Marron received her masters in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. While there, she taught in Chicago's public school system and volunteered at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital. "I worked with pre- schoolers who were HIV positive. That really enlightened me about working with children in different populations." For the last several years Marron has been one of Associate Professor Niobe Way's research assistants. Together they look at factors associated with the quality of friendship in urban, low-income, racial and ethnic minority adolescents. Because of Marron's Mexican- American background, she especially enjoys working with Hispanic communities, providing emotional support and creating resiliency within their families.

Why did you choose NYU for your doctoral work?

I looked at many programs, but NYU was my top choice because of its excellent academic reputation. Before entering the program, I approached Professor Way and volunteered to help with her work. I wanted to gain research experience, but also get involved in the NYU community, to see first-hand how it functioned. I come from a large family - I'm the youngest of 10 kids. Before I committed to a doctoral program, I wanted to make sure I entered into an academic environment that would be nurturing and stimulating. And that's exactly what I've found in this program. There are only six of us in my year and 33 in the whole PsyD program, so it's like a family or small community. And my work with Niobe has only enhanced that experience. I find her to be such an inspiring person, a real mentor.

Tell me about your work with Professor Way.

We recently completed a three-year project called Project REAL (Relationship of Early Adolescent Lives). We worked with adolescent kids in grades six through eight who were attending Life Sciences Secondary School (LSSS) in East Harlem. We looked at their relationships with their parents, friends, community, and school. It was amazing to see how these kids developed and maintained emotional autonomy, and interesting to observe the psychological adjustments they made in order to navigate self-esteem and depression. Currently, I am assisting Niobe as an ethnographer on a new project at the NYU Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education. I'm visiting the homes of two Mexican families and exploring their lives in relationship to culture, development, and education.

You recently completed your Bonnie Jacobson Award year at PS 72, a "high-risk" school in East Harlem.

Bonnie herself functioned as my externship supervisor. I met with her once a week to discuss my experiences at PS 72, where I worked with the school's administration, teaching staff, and school psychologist to provide services to children in grades K though 6. I worked with the kids one on one and in groups to help them with their communication, social and conflict resolution skills. Getting this externship meant a lot to me because I wanted the chance to work with other Mexicans. I wanted an opportunity to go into their community and learn about their experiences in the school system. I was especially touched by one little girl. She was extremely shy when I began working with her, and talked in a whisper. Now she's communicating in full sentences, with a full voice.

What are your plans once you receive your doctorate?

My eventual goal is to have my own psychotherapy practice, where I can work with adolescents and adults of all populations and backgrounds; to teach and work in a therapeutic setting at a university; and to write children's books.