Cal State San Bernardino graduate students Melissa Esparza (pictured) and Cynthia Britt received the Michael Goodman Memorial Research Award at the California Association of School Psychologists conference last fall in San Diego.
Esparza and Britt, both second-year students in the College of Education's educational counseling and psychology program pursuing Pupil Personnel Services credentials, presented a paper titled, "Academic Benefits from RTI (Response to Intervention) Behavioral Intervention." The study investigated positive behavioral support to K-12 students over a seven-week period.
"I feel so blessed to be part of the school psychology program at CSUSB because the professors offer such a diverse range of expertise and are associated with a wide variety of local, state, national and international agencies," said Esparza, CSUSB alumna with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in educational instruction from Chapman University.
"Presenting at such a well-known organization gave us both the opportunity to receive real-world experience. It also allowed us to network with other professionals in order to become empowered and prepared to enter the job market," said Esparza, a mountain area resident.
Esparza is currently employed as a support teacher with San Bernardino City Unified School District, whose primary role at the school site is RTI (Response to Intervention) coordinator. She is also completing her internship hours at SBCUSD.
Britt earned a bachelor's in bio psychology and a master's in general experimental psychology from CSUSB. She is an intern at two high schools in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District, and an elementary and preschool with the Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga.
"Melissa and I originally had no intention of taking home the big prize, but to just get a better understanding of what it took to be a great school psychologist in our community," said Britt. "So I thank God for blessing us with such an amazing experience and unexpected award."
Britt, of Rancho Cucamonga, said it was even more gratifying because it was their first experience presenting at a conference related to school psychology, and they were competing with established school psychologists and many other graduate students throughout California.
Britt said that this experience not only adds to her growing list of academic accomplishments, but will also be put to good use when she begins looking for the ideal position as a school psychologist.
Robert Nelson, CSUSB professor of educational psychology, who guided both Esparza and Britt through the research process, said the "award is a testimony to the students' initiative, hard work and skill as scholars/researchers that place them in the company of any institution in California."
"As a training program designed to prepare practitioners for working in the field, it is especially gratifying to know that our students are contributing original and unique research, as well as gaining knowledge from very experienced faculty," said Nelson.
"I'm grateful that Dr. Nelson encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and submit my research to CASP, which enabled Cynthia and me to win the Michael Goodman Award," Esparza said.
"I would like give a special thanks to Dr. Robert Nelson for encouraging Melissa and I to present at CASP," said Britt. "And to professors Cynthia Crawford and Sanders McDougall in the CSUSB psychology department for giving me the foundational skills for presenting at conferences and for teaching me the value and outcomes of good research."
For digital images of Cynthia Britt and Melissa Esparza, contact the Cal State San Bernardino Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.