Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) - George Mason University

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School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism - George Mason University

The School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism (SRHT) offers exciting, career-ready majors in dynamic fields such as athletic training, tourism and events management, health and physical education, kinesiology, sport management, and recreation management. SRHT features renowned faculty, cutting-edge research, six laboratories and centers, and a diverse student body of more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Each major requires one or more internship or clinical experiences, ensuring that students graduate not just with a transcript but with a resume that demonstrates their professional aptitude and skills.

Meet Our HDFS Students

Human Development and Family Science Students

Kia Jackson - First Graduate of the HDFS program

 Kia Jackson, First Human Development and Family Science Graduate

It is with great pleasure that I am able to say I am the first to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development and Family Science

When I first began college I wanted to go into law but still work with families and children. As I began to take classes I learned that law enforcement was not quite what I wanted to do. I was extremely excited when my Associate Dean Ellen Rodgers walked up to me and said "Here is your new program, take a look at it and tell me what you think." After reading a rough draft of the HDFS program report, I knew this was the perfect program for me.

Not only is HDFS a very broad program but also it gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of fields within family science. For example, I was able to take classes covering policy, human sexuality, child development, poverty, and social problems. In my last few months as an undergrad, I was able to land a full-time Research Assistant position with American Institutes for Research located in Washington D.C working on projects with Juvenile justice and Child Welfare. I am very excited to see HDFS grow and I cannot wait too see what other opportunities arise from this outstanding program!

Leanna Moron - Students as Scholars

Leanna Moron Human Development and Family Science Student Scholar

My first real research experience was in the Summer of 2015, where I worked as a research assistant for Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Statistics. From this Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, I learned that I wanted to continue doing quantitative research and to pursue a career as a statistician.

In the Fall 2015 semester, I joined my Human Development and Family Science professor, Dr. Bethany Letiecq, on an on-going interdisciplinary research project. The research team works in partnership with Latina immigrant women from Central America, who now reside in Northern Virginia with their families. I joined the project as an intern (fulfilling HDFS 498-499 for a total of 6 credits) and undergraduate research assistant, where I assist with data collection, management, and analysis.

My URSP project is Exploring Predictors of Depression among Central American Immigrant Mothers: A Multidisciplinary CBPR Approach. The purpose of this study is to delineate the strongest predictors of depressive symptomology among undocumented immigrant mothers from Central America to inform future contextually-based mental health interventions.

On a weekly basis, I do a variety of tasks. This week I wrote a proposal abstract to the 2016 National Council of Family Relations (NCFR) conference. I also work on conducting literature reviews, data analyses, and manuscript preparation. From preliminary data analysis this week, I have found that, based on our sample, health perceptions and years of education are protective factors against depression. This implies that having better perceptions of your health and having higher levels of education were related to lower depression scores.

In addition, I also go to Alexandria City Public Schools’ English Language Learners (ACPS ELL) office in Alexandria. I help new immigrant and native-born families register their children for school by helping them fill out school forms in both English and Spanish; this in particular has been a humbling experience in which I have the opportunity to build my interpersonal skills and Spanish-speaking skills.

George Mason’s Undergraduate Research Scholars Program has been such an enriching experience to my undergraduate career. This interdisciplinary project gives me the opportunity to explore my interests in the fields of Human Development & Family Science, Statistics and Spanish. As an aspiring statistician/family scientist, I want to continue working on interesting social-science related projects that have an impact on improving the quality of people’s lives.


Students as Scholars is Mason's initiative to support undergraduate research and creative activity, both within and beyond the classroom. The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) is the home of Students as Scholars.