Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Suzanna So

Training Track: Clinical
Lab: PACCT Lab  
Advisor: Noni Gaylord-Harden, Ph.D. 
Office: Coffey Hall 248


Suzanna is interested in the effect of community violence exposure on the mental health needs of low-income, urban minority youth. Within the PACCT Lab, she is examining different protective factors that can be targeted in intervention and policy research in order to better aid these populations.

Masters Thesis Title

Examining the effects of coping strategies specific to community violence exposure among African American adolescents

Masters Thesis Abstract

Variability in exposure to community violence (ECV) and aggressive behaviors in African American youth from urban communities can be attributed to general coping, but these studies have been inconclusive. Recent qualitative research identified four types of coping that are specific to ECV; however, quantitative research is needed to understand the adaptiveness of these strategies. The current study examined the factor structure of a measure for ECV-specific coping strategies. The current study also assessed how ECV-specific coping was associated with ECV and externalizing behaviors. Data from the current study were derived from an archival dataset comprised of 594 African American adolescents. Results from a confirmatory factor analysis revealed that each subscale demonstrated a good fit with the data. Moderation analyses demonstrated that certain types of ECV-specific coping may interact with ECV and gender to protect against outcomes. Thus, one must consider their unique contexts when working with youth affected by ECV.

Masters Thesis Committee

Noni Gaylord-Harden and Maryse Richards 

Dissertation Title

The longitudinal relationships among exposure to community violence, trauma, delinquency, and future orientation from childhood to late adolescence

Dissertation Abstract

From a developmental psychopathology (Rutter & Sroufe, 2000) and ecological-transactional perspective (Cicchetti & Lynch, 1993), different reciprocal relationships occur throughout one’s lifespan and lead to a complex interplay of factors that influence adult outcomes.  For African American youth, violence continues to be one of the most pressing public health concerns (Sleet et al., 2011). Exposure to community violence (ECV) is linked with a higher occurrence of psychosocial problems, including delinquency and trauma symptoms, which may greatly hinder youths’ chances for success later in life (Romeo, 2013). However, there are differing trajectories for ECV over time, and there is variability in ECV, protective factors, and externalizing behaviors among African American youth (Copeland-Linder, Lambert, & Ialongo, 2010). Further, less is known about the long-term longitudinal and transactional relationships among these variables across critical developmental periods in African American youths’ lives. While future orientation has been examined as a possible buffer against the negative effects of ECV (e.g., So, Gaylord-Harden, Voisin, & Scott, 2015), there is limited knowledge about prospective life course domains of future orientation and factors that may help promote those domains. Thus, the aims of the current study are to examine 1) the longitudinal, reciprocal relationships of ECV, delinquency, and trauma from middle childhood to late adolescence, 2) how future orientation during mid-adolescence may interact with ECV to predict late adolescence delinquency and trauma, and 3) factors that may promote future orientation by buffering against the negative effects of ECV. Data from the current study will be derived from a publicly available archival dataset (i.e., Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect) that originally followed 1354 youth and their families from 4 to 18 years of age.  With a focus on 721 African American youth, proposed analyses will include autoregressive cross-lagged modeling and comparisons of moderation and mediation models.  

Dissertation Committee

Noni Gaylord-Harden, Catherine Santiago, Scott Leon, & James Garbarino