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Dissertation Defense for Brittany Sterling

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Gaurav Mathur, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School
Re: Dissertation Defense for Brittany Sterling 

It is my pleasure to announce that Brittany Erickson Sterling, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, will defend her dissertation on “Attachment and acculturation as catalysts for a meaningful life in individuals with prelingual deafness” on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community via a live webinar.  Register here to attend. 

The goal of Ms. Sterling’s study was to use a multivariate analysis to learn whether D/deaf individuals with a secure attachment style are more likely to report an increased sense of belonging, purpose, transcendence, and therapeutic storytelling. Emily Esfahani Smith (2017) refers to these variables as the “four pillars for a meaningful life.” The study also used multivariate analyses to determine whether individuals highly acculturated in general, and specifically to Deaf culture, reported an increased sense of a meaningful life compared to their less highly acculturated peers. Results indicated that high acculturation to Hearing culture had a significant association with perceiving life as meaningful.  Participants reporting greater Deaf acculturation reported significantly higher scores on transcendence.  A multivariate analysis found those with a secure attachment style reported greater perceptions of a meaningful life than their peers who did not have secure attachment styles.  Perceiving life as meaningful positively correlates with overall health, including psychological health. Identifying these factors showcases more opportunities for intervention.

The members of Ms. Sterling’s dissertation committee are Dr. Lori Day, Department of Psychology, chair of the dissertation committee; Dr. Carolyn Corbett, Department of Psychology; Dr. Deborah Schooler, Department of Psychology; Dr. Patrick Brice, Department of Psychology (retired); and Dr. Regina Nuzzo, Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics.  

Ms. Sterling entered the Clinical Psychology program at Gallaudet University in the Fall of 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from Ithaca College.  Her clinical experiences include a practicum at Gallaudet University Counseling and Psychological Services; a neuropsychological evaluation externship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland; an externship focused on behavioral interventions with individuals on the autism spectrum through intensive in-home services at Compass Youth and Family Services in Norfolk, Virginia; a counseling and testing externship at a private practice, Expressive Therapy Center, in Potomac, Maryland; and a neuropsychological testing externship at Children’s National Medical Center in Rockville, Maryland.  During this time, Brittany also completed internships with the American Psychological Association Practice Directorate and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Office of Program Analysis and Coordination of the Center for Mental Health Services and served as co-leader for a local Mothers of Preschoolers chapter supporting and providing resources to civilian and military mothers. Ms. Sterling was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower People with Disabilities Fellowship twice, conducting and presenting research on topics such as divided attention among Deaf drivers.  She also presented her individual research at the American Psychological Association annual convention twice.  Ms. Sterling spent the past year completing her APA-accredited predoctoral internship at the Family Advocacy Program at Middlesex Health in Middletown, Connecticut.  

Please join me in extending best wishes to Brittany Sterling for her dissertation defense.

Posted by Elizabeth Gibbons | Posted September 11, 2020 at 10:09 AM

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Gallaudet

800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002