CSU student receives plum pre-doctoral internship from AEA

MarkCreeryPhotography Pic 1
Nancy Mendoza Photo courtesy of Mark Creery Photography

Nancy Mendoza, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at CSU, was one of only 13 students nationwide selected for the American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program. The GEDI program works to engage and support students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the field of evaluation and extend their capacities for culturally responsive evaluation practices.

Mendoza was recommended for the GEDI program by David MacPhee, director of the Applied Developmental Science doctoral program at CSU.

“When the American Evaluation Association announced the availability of the GEDI program, it seemed as though Mendoza — who is Latina — would be an ideal fit, given that they were committed to recruiting students who had ‘a strong background in research skills, an interest in extending their capacities to the field of evaluation and a commitment to thinking deeply about culturally responsive evaluation practice,’” MacPhee said.

About the program

The GEDI program involves multiple components, including training seminars, weekly webinars, a group service project and placement in an individualized evaluation project at a local agency. Mendoza was placed at a new campus in the Mental Health Center of Denver network: The Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being.

Mendoza is responsible for evaluating the Dahlia Center and its effect on the community. This includes determining the needs of other organizations in the community and making sure those needs are being met by the Dahlia Center.

This new campus, located in Northeast Park Hill, will offer a wide range of services in areas such as pediatric dentistry, early childhood mental health, urban farming, community gardens and support groups. The Dahlia Center is located in a neighborhood where there are a lot of grandparents raising grandchildren, a topic that is in direct alignment with Mendoza’s dissertation on Latino “grandfamilies.” Mendoza will be assisting the center in creating support groups and multigenerational nights for these grandfamilies.

On Nov. 8, the GED interns traveled to Chicago for the AEA national conference. There they collected data from AEA members for their service project on the topic of how different people define culturally responsive evaluation. Their research will be outlined in a report to be submitted early next year.

Mendoza with members of her GEDI cohort.
Mendoza with members of her GEDI cohort.

Supporting grandfamilies

Mendoza received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from CSU and went on to earn her M.S. in gerontology, the scientific study of aging or older adults, at the University of Northern Colorado. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in applied developmental science at CSU. Mendoza first became interested in gerontology through her grandparents, “who basically raised her,” she said.

Mendoza and her advisor, Christine Fruhauf, have been working together to implement a six-week program funded by USDA/NIFA Children Youth and Families At-Risk that addresses self-care needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. It is called GRANDcares.

“Nancy gives 110 percent in everything she does at her internship and her work on the USDA/NIFA Children Youth and Families At-Risk grant,” said Fruhauf. “I’m so very pleased that she was awarded this opportunity with the AEA’s GEDI. This opportunity will not only help her as she pursues an academic position in Human Development and Family Studies, but it has important implications as she finishes her dissertation examining support networks of grandparents raising grandchildren.”

Upon completing her doctoral program, Mendoza hopes to pursue a career in education or direct services, with her ultimate goal being to teach on campus.

“CSU has been a huge help not only just education-wise, but also resource-wise,” said Mendoza. “I have the knowledge, now I just need the experience. The GEDI program is an awesome opportunity to gain that experience, and I would love for more people to take advantage of it.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is in the College of Health and Human Sciences at CSU.