Yoojin Kook (3283)

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Mental Health and Resilience in First Generation College Students

Hometown: Burke, Virginia 

Department: Psychology 

Advisor: Elizabeth Raposa 

Only 25% of first-generation college students graduate within 6 years. Mental illnesses, as well as barriers to mental health resources, likely play a role. We will study the effects of perceived social support and barriers among first-gen students, on their emotional distress and use of mental health resources. Results will help to develop targeted interventions, which would support emotional well-being among these students and promote equal educational opportunities. Thank you for your support!

All William & Mary Honors Fellowships fundraising supports the Charles Center Honors Fellowships Fund. Direct support for individual undergraduate research projects is distributed by the Roy R. Charles Center for Academic Excellence

How I Became Interested in Mental Health and Resilience among First Generation College Students

As the end of this fundraising is drawing near, I wanted to share my Personal Statement that describes how my background and past experiences have shaped my interest in my research topic and my career goals.

Thank you so much for your support and I look forward to sharing the study results with you next spring!

2627 days ago by Sarah Yoojin Kook
Study Design

We will recruit 100 high school seniors who will be attending a four-year college/university as first-generation college students, regardless of their commuter status and type (public vs. private) of institution. Recruitment will occur in Williamsburg, VA and surrounding areas. Participants will be paid for their participation. 

During the summer prior to beginning college, eligible participants will participate in a two-hour baseline session with their informed consent. The baseline surveys will include questions about ethnic and socioeconomic identity, social support, help-seeking beliefs and behaviors, symptoms of emotional distress, and attitudes and utilization of mental health resources. 

As a follow-up, participants will then complete an online survey at the end of the fall of their first year of college. During this follow-up, we will collect additional information about students’ emotional distress and attitudes and utilization of mental health resources on campus. All procedures have been submitted under Dr. Raposa’s IRB proposal (PHSC-2017-02-26-11894-ebraposa; Titled: Risk and Resilience in First Generation College Students).

2656 days ago by Sarah Yoojin Kook
Why Mental Health among First Generation College Students?

In the United States, a bachelor’s degree is an essential requirement for most employers. However, first generation college students have higher dropout rates and lower graduation rates; only 25% of first generation college students graduate within six years, compared to 56% of non-first generation students. Thus, social inequality is exacerbated by continued educational disparity.

One factor that might contribute to these lower rates of persistence involves higher rates of emotional distress and barriers to utilizing healthcare resources on campus. Studies show that poor mental health can have an independent effect on dropout rates of college students. However, while the correlation between ethnicity and mental health resource utilization is relatively well-studied, there is a lack of similar studies with a focus on first-generation college students. 

The honors study is therefore designed to assess mental illness prevalence, attitudes, help-seeking behavior, and utilization of mental health resources among first generation students. Analyses will examine: 1) how social identity, social support, and perceived sense of belonging at college influence first-generation college students’ rates of emotional distress, and 2) whether social identity, social support, and perceived sense of belonging at college are associated with perceived barriers to utilization of mental health resources, as well as actual utilization of mental health resources.

2656 days ago by Sarah Yoojin Kook

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