The Julie Branch Staton Outstanding Graduate Student Award
This award is presented to an outstanding graduate student, on the OSU-Tulsa campus, who exhibits drive and leadership in the field of child development. This person should have a passion for helping families and young children, positively impacting their lives. The individual should also display characteristics such as resilience, hard work, and commitment to family and academics.
Julie Branch Staton received her BS in Child and Family Services and her MS in Human Development and Family Science at OSU Tulsa. She was a doctoral student studying child development and early childcare teacher mental health at the time of her death in the summer of 2016. Julie had a remarkable gift of working with children. She could explain complex ideas to a four year-old and confound the deepest minds of adults with her mastery of the technical aspects of Human Development and Family Science. Julie’s greatest accomplishment was her family. Her greatest love outside of her family was working with children.
In 2018, the Julie Branch Staton Outstanding Graduate Student Award was presented to Ashley Harvey. Reviewers commented that Harvey demonstrates, “passion for helping families and children and a commitment to academics, leadership and resilience.” Harvey was named a Tulsa Albert Schweitzer Fellow and developed the Family Strengthening Project, a resilience program for justice-involved families, along with another graduate student. Harvey’s faculty advisor is Dr. Michael Merten.
Jens Jespersen received the 2020 Julie Branch Staton Outstanding Graduate Award. Jens is a Ph.D. student at Oklahoma State University, completing his doctoral work in Human Development and Family Science. His research interests include infant mental health, specifically regarding emotion socialization and emotion regulation in young children, as well as how parenting in the early years influences later development and behavior. Jens has experience in program evaluation, data management, and conducting researching using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. For his Master’s Thesis Jens conducted a national evaluation of the Active Parenting First Five Years program, and continues to conduct research with parents and their young children in various contexts.