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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Challenger: A McNair Scholars Paper Series

Challenger: A McNair Scholars Paper Series aims to further the access and representation of underrepresented students through the dissemination of research produced by McNair Scholars at UC San Diego. The purpose of this publication is to organize, implement, and maintain a scholarly research journal that represents diverse perspectives across multiple fields of study.

Our publication's name was inspired by Dr. Ronald E. McNair and his contributions as an outstanding scholar and representative of underrepresented communities of color in higher education. Unfortunately, Dr. McNair passed away in the Challenger space shuttle. This publication was founded to further his legacy of excellence, and to support students who, like Dr. McNair, have the potential to exceed in future doctoral education.
Cover page of Predictors of Therapists Use of Homework in Community Mental Health: Session and Therapist Characteristics

Predictors of Therapists Use of Homework in Community Mental Health: Session and Therapist Characteristics


Assigning and reviewing homework as a strategy to help clients gain therapeutic skills is a common technique used across a variety of evidence-based practices (EBPs) and has been shown to improve therapy outcomes for children and youth. However, in studies characterizing routine psychotherapy delivered in community mental health settings, homework is rarely used in sessions. While some therapist and client level predictors of EBP strategy use have been identified in routine psychotherapy (e.g. client stressors, therapists’ attitudes towards EBPs) it is unknown what is associated with community mental health therapists using homework in the increasingly common context of system-driven implementation of multiple EBPs. To identify predictors of therapists’ use of homework, 680 videos of sessions with 274 clients were collected from 103 therapists (of which 55% were Hispanic) providing children’s mental health services through the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH). The current study uses a multilevel logistic regression analysis model to identify which factors are associated with therapist use of homework in therapy sessions when there is system-driven implementation support for the use of multiple EBPs in community mental health settings. After controlling for the EBP delivered in session and the number of EBPs therapists were trained in, having a caregiver present in the therapy session, older child age, and being an unlicensed therapist were associated with a higher likelihood of therapists assigning and reviewing homework during a specific session. Therapist race/ethnicity, perceptions of the EBP being delivered, their report of emotional exhaustion, and direct hours with clients, as well as emergent unexpected stressful client life events within a session were not significantly associated with therapists’ delivery of homework. These findings underscore the need to provide explicit attention during therapist training on the use of homework with younger clients when caregivers are absent from sessions and the need to facilitate the use of homework among licensed therapists.

Cover page of Amor y Apoyo: Lecciones de Latinx Families in Nourishing Resilience to First and Second-Generation College Students

Amor y Apoyo: Lecciones de Latinx Families in Nourishing Resilience to First and Second-Generation College Students


The present qualitative study aims to understand how Latino/Hispanic herea er referred to as Latinx, parent involvement is different or similar among first- and second-generation college students in how they experience higher education and how parental education impacts the use of student support services. Hence, supporting Latinx student retention by developing university and parental relationships. Second-generation college students and Latinx parents were unable to be included in the study because of their scarcity or hesitation of participating. Therefore, participants included a convenience sample of six first-generation undergraduate students from a 4-year institution. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to obtain their stories of parental involvement and student involvement. Results suggest that (1) first-generation college students experience a hands-off involvement from parents, however, they enjoyed the freedom this brought, (2) Latinx parents might have a misunderstanding of college student identity, and (3) students expressed a desire to have their parents learn about and understand mental health. Implications of findings include universities creating more resources to support Latinx students’ mental health, as well as earlier school outreach for Latinx parent involvement to better inform them about the college lifestyle.

Cover page of The Criminalization of Black Girls in K-12 U.S Schools: A Public Health Issue

The Criminalization of Black Girls in K-12 U.S Schools: A Public Health Issue


This research examines the criminalization of Black girls in K-12 schools in the United States and presents possible solutions to the issue. A series of interviews conducted with Black girls and women who attended elementary, middle, and high school throughout the United States were used to develop the following research. The interviews were semi-structured with a set of questions surrounding the interviewees’ relationships with school professionals, their experience with in-school discipline, and their sense of belonging within the school setting. Interviewees o en expanded on the set questions with in-depth anecdotes of their personal experiences and what they witnessed in school. The interview responses were used to understand what experiences Black girls are having in school in relation to discipline; in addition, Black Critical Theory was used to further analyze and explain the recurring anti-Black treatment targeted towards Black girls. Interviews repeatedly revealed that Black girls are having ongoing encounters with violence, intolerance, lack of support within school, and exclusionary discipline. Additionally, this research found that Black girls are experiencing adultification as early as kindergarten and have developed personal and shared trauma as a result of their school experiences. Furthermore, this study unveiled a strong need for school professionals and involved organizations to acknowledge the unique experiences of differing cultural and identity groups while constructing classroom environments and discipline policies.