Graduate Resources

Documents and information to assist you during your time as an FSU graduate student.

Graduate assistantships (teaching and research) are awarded through each department. Additional scholarship opportunities may also be available. To find out more, please contact your department.

HDFS Orientation for Graduate Students

A departmental orientation has been created for newly admitted graduate students to the Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. It will be held in two sessions: an online asynchronous session and an in-person session. Information provided in each session is distinct, and you must attend both. You will learn about academic expectations, campus, and community resources. Whether you are attending a university in the U.S. for the first time or are an FSU alumnus, the graduate student experience is filled with challenges and rewards. We are here to support you during your journey to becoming a successful professional in your field of study.


Requisite Student Orientations

The departmental orientation is one of several orientations that will be required. We ask that you dress “business casual” for any in-person event. Please note that the weather in Florida is variable, and temperature inside buildings can fluctuate (we recommend you bring an umbrella and a sweater/light coat).

Students are required to be present in Tallahassee the week before classes begin.


Fall 2024

The HDFS orientation will be offered virtually as a self-paced online Canvas course. Your activated FSU ID will allow us to invite you to the Canvas orientation course. The course will open on 5 August 2024 and must be completed by 16 August 2024. Please allow time to complete all modules successfully; the total viewing time is around two (2) hours, and this does not include the quizzes or assignments.


Preparing for the Orientation

  • All Master’s and Doctoral Students admitted to programs in HDFS should successfully complete the departmental orientation before registering for classes.
  • Find out more about Canvas, the FSU software that we deliver courses through.


Department Orientation Contacts

Paul Peluso
Department Chair
Human Development and Family Science
(850) 644-4048
225-H SAN


Tara Hartman
Graduate Academic Program Specialist
Office of Academic Services & Intern Support (OASIS)
(850) 644-7221
242-B SAN

Additional Resources

For additional policies, please refer to individual department pages. All college and departmental policies are in compliance with university policies.

Current Doctoral Students

Deziah Bermudez

Human Development and Family Science

Deziah’s Vita

  • ethnic-racial identity
  • resilience in ethnic-racial minorities

Deziah is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Deziah is originally from New York, where she graduated from Molloy College with her Bachelors of Science in Psychology. Prior to attending Florida State, Deziah worked as a Recreation Therapist at a medical model Adult Day Health Care Program. Deziah’s research interests include ethnic-racial identity and resilience in ethnic-racial minorities, specifically Latinx adolescents. She plans to conduct research that addresses the shortcomings in theoretical frameworks of child development by contributing knowledge on the factors that make the minority developmental process unique.

In her spare time, Deziah enjoys reading mystery/thriller novels, baking sweet treats, FaceTiming with her family back in New York, and watching a variety of documentaries. Deziah is a lover of all things music-related. There is bound to be something playing off of her random (yet tastefully organized) Spotify playlists at all times of the day. Deziah began her undergraduate career as a music therapist before switching over to psychology, played the viola for 8 years, and even dabbled into writing and transcribing instrumental music for R&B artists in her early teen years.

Kaley de Leon

Human Development & Family Science

Kaley de Leon headshot
  • Family Life Education Program Evaluation and Implementation
  • Marriage and Relationship Education
Kaley de Leon is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. She is also a Program Associate at the Florida Center for Prevention Research where she assists with research projects that aim to evaluate programs in the areas of adolescent pregnancy prevention and marriage education. Through her specialized coursework at FSU, she obtained her license as a provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE-P).

Lenka Feng

Human Development & Family Science

Lenka’s Vita

  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Child Emotional Development
  • Parenting
  • Cultural Diversity

Lenka is a first-year in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Lenka is originally from Beijing, China. She graduated from Ohio State University with her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Education. She has two-years of experience working in child developmental labs and has held an internship in a primary school. Lenka also had two-months of experience as an intern in a youth psychiatric hospital. These undergraduate experiences helped her to focus her research interests in parenting and parent-child relationships. She wants to understand how parents’ behaviors and relationships influence their child’s development and how these factors contribute to a better family environment for child growth.

Lenka enjoys reading suspense/detective novels and love stories. In her spare times, she like spending time with family and friends, playing online games or watching movies together. Her favorite way to spend holidays and vacations is traveling around world to actually “experience” every miracle that historical stories left.

Soojin Han

Marriage and Family Therapy

Soojin’s Vita

  • Multigenerational family patterns
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy
  • Experiential Approach
  • Parental Attachment and Parent-Child Relationships

Soojin is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy program and a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in the State of Florida. She is a happy wife to her amazing husband. She is originally from Seoul, South Korea and earned her Bachelor’s of Arts with a double major in Counseling Psychology and Social Welfare from Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea. She then completed her Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Wheaton College. Prior to attending Florida State University, Soojin worked as an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Illinois at a private practice mainly working with Korean immigrant families. Soojin’s research interests focus on parental relationships and its impacts on their children’s relational well-being. She is also interested in empowering clients to rebuild trustful relationships with family members by providing evidence-based systemic therapy and mentoring future generations of marriage and family therapists by teaching and supervision.

Soojin enjoys spending quality time with her husband and inviting friends over to her house to share meals together. She loves exploring new places in the world to experience new cultures; she traveled to twenty three cities of thirteen countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and America.

Alexis Hughes

Human Development & Family Sciences

  • Anxious solitude in childhood
  • Development of psychopathology (particularly eating disorders)
  • Childhood Victimization

Alexis is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences program. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in Family and Child Sciences and Psychology. Her research interests include the development of psychopathology, with a particular interest in the development of eating disorders, victimization experienced in childhood, and anxious solitude. Through her research, she hopes to gain a better understanding of factors that influence the development of psychopathology.

In her spare time, Alexis enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, Teddy. She loves to read, especially thriller and mystery novels, but she also loves a good romance novel. Additionally, she loves to crochet and watch sports, especially the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Valentina Iturriaga

Marriage and Family Therapy

Valentina’s Vita

  • Resilience
  • Immigrant families
  • Health disparities in marginalized and underserved populations
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Systemic inequities

Valentina is a first-year doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received a B.A in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Florida International University, and an M.S./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Florida State University. Valentina’s research interests include trauma and resilience, intergenerational transmission, emotion regulation and the impact of structural inequities on marginalized populations, specifically undocumented immigrant families and Latinx populations. After graduation, her goals are to work in an academic setting and continue to pursue her research interests. She hopes her research contributes to the well-being of underserved families.

Valentina was born in Chile and grew up in Miami, FL. She values time spent with her family, and friends. She also enjoys hiking, camping, spending time outdoors, and listening to podcasts.

Karina Jalapa Sandoval

Human Development & Family Science

Karina’s Vita

  • Maternal depression, stress, and trauma
  • Developmental trauma
  • Resilience in children
  • Cross-cultural research

Karina is currently a first-year doctoral student in the Human Development and Child Sciences program. She was born in Toluca, Mexico but considers Fort Worth, Texas to be her home since she moved there after her first birthday.

She graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience.

Karina is interested in studying the outcomes of maternal stress, trauma, and depression on pre and postnatal development and why some children exposed to these early childhood stressors develop resilience while others do not. She is also interested in examining cross-cultural differences in children exposed to trauma, specifically within Latinx populations.

Karina plans on staying in academia so that she can pursue her passion for research and teaching.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to an unhealthy amount of true-crime podcasts, her favorite being Morbid A True Crime Podcast and Crime Junkie. She also enjoys taking photos of her beloved beagle-mix, Dopamine (A.K.A Dopey), for his own Instagram page. She enjoys all things outdoors and hopes to one day see an alligator in its natural habitat.

Trinity Johnston

Human Development & Family Science

Trinity’s Vita

  • Child well-being
  • Family and child therapy
  • Child emotional development
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Implications of attachment theory
  • Parenting

I am currently a first-year doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences program. I was born in Lakeland, Florida and have always wanted to attend Florida State University to earn my degrees. I graduated from FSU with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Child Development. My research interests surround child well-being, parenting, and parent-child relationships; I am also specifically interested in how environmental factors can impact a child’ s development and growth.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading all kinds of novels, catching up on my favorite shows (huge Grey’s Anatomy fan), spending time with my friends, being outside, and traveling. I love vacationing and seeing new places; I hope to visit most places around the world in my lifetime. My most prized possession is my baby, a black lab named Bry (or Bubba) and we love to spend time together, go on walks, and have mommy-son days outside.

Chorong Lee

Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Parent-child relationships
  • Cultural differences in parenting
  • Young children’s social and emotional development
  • Evidence based practices in family therapy

Chorong is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received her master’s degree in school counseling at Purdue University and worked as a lecturer and researcher before coming to Florida State University. Her research interests include parent child relationships, mother’s mental health and children’s emotional development, cultural differences in parenting, and evidence based practices for family and child therapy.

Chorong loves spending time with children, reading, cooking and climbing.

Dylann Lowery

Marriage and Family Therapy

Dylann’s Vita

  • Generational trauma transmission through parenting styles for families with lower resources (i.e., financially, emotionally, physically, etc.) and higher risk for exposure/experience to complex trauma
  • Biopsychosocial lifespan implications among individuals who experienced complex trauma (i.e., abuse, neglect, maltreatment) in early childhood (ages 0 – 4)
  • Social-ecological play therapy interventions in systemic trauma-based clinical practice
  • Posttraumatic adaptation and resiliency among survivors of complex trauma
  • Couples who have experienced dual trauma and the ability to navigate romantic relationships
  • Couple outcomes and systemic treatment in relationships with Intimate Partner Violence

Dylann is in the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program. Prior to joining the program, she received her B.S. in Human Development and Family Science and B.S. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Following her undergraduate studies, she pursued a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Auburn University. Dylann has served in a wide variety of clinical settings including working with underserved populations of the Tuskegee/Auburn/Opelika cities. Her clinical focus is providing trauma-informed care for families with children ages 4 -12. Upon graduation from Florida State University, Dylann wants to continue research to influence trauma intervention within families.

Dylann is originally from Woodward, Oklahoma but has loved getting to live in different states and traveling. During her time at Auburn, she adopted a dog and named him Derby-Jett and has loved having an adventure buddy. In her spare time, Dylann loves trying new foods and exploring Tallahassee. Additionally, she loves sports including watching the Oklahoma State Cowboys football team and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

Crystal Marroquin

Marriage and Family Therapy

Crystal Marroquin headshot
  • Feminist Family Therapy
  • Perinatal Care
  • Mindfulness
  • Social Justice
  • Self of the Therapist
  • Therapy retention rates within Hispanic communities

Crystal is a first-year doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received a B.A. in Psychology & Spanish from Texas Tech University where she then completed a master’s degree in Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy. She has experience working with a variety of populations in different settings including the juvenile justice system. Crystal’s research interests include Feminist Family Therapy, social justice, self of the therapist, and working to improve therapy retention rates within Hispanic communities. After graduation, she hopes to work in an academic setting while also continuing her clinical work.

Crystal is originally from Puerto Rico but primarily grew up in central Texas. She enjoys traveling and going on road trips with friends. One of her biggest bucket list goals is to visit every U.S. national park. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching movies, rollerblading, crocheting, and spending time with her dog Baker.

Jordan Marshall

Human Development & Family Science

Jordan’s Vita

  • Romantic Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Mindfulness
  • Mind-Body Connection

Jordan is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Jordan graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a minor in theatre. She then completed her Masters of Science in Clinical-Counseling Psychology at Illinois State University. In the year prior to attending Florida State University, Jordan worked as a licensed professional counselor in the state of Illinois at a neurodevelopmental psychology practice. Her primary research interests focus on the influence of relationships on well-being. She has a number of secondary interests, including mindfulness and mind-body connection.

Outside of academia, some of Jordan’s interests include dance, yoga, and outer space. She loves spending time outdoors and volunteering for environmental causes. As such, she has very much enjoyed the warmer weather of Florida compared to the Midwest.

Chioma Opara

Human Development & Family Science

Chioma’s Vita

  • Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
  • Health and Well-Being of Individuals and Families
  • Mindfulness in Family Relationships
  • Impact of Mindfulness on Mental Health and Overall Well-being

Chioma is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. She obtained her bachelor’s degree (B.Sc. Ed.) and master’s (M.Ed.) in Home Economics from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. While studying Home Economics, Chioma understood the nature of humans as it relates to their physical, biological, social, intellectual, emotional, mental, and psychological development and well-being. She was exposed to different areas of knowledge that helped proffer solutions to problems in the family and society. Chioma is passionate about understanding and improving the health and well-being of individuals and families. Through her research interests, she intends to enhance relationships among family members, establish healthy lifestyles, and promote the general well-being and health of the individuals in the family. She would achieve this by researching mindfulness and well-being in individuals, families, and the community at large, thus, helping them to become aware of their feelings and pay attention to their thoughts so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them.

Chioma loves to involve herself with positive thoughts and engage in things that make her feel happy and loved. Specifically, she loves entertainment, cooking, listening to songs, singing, dancing, and watching games. She also loves to spend time with children and assist individuals and families who are in need.

Francesca Otero-Vargas

Marriage and Family Therapy

Francesca’s Vita

  • Couple and Family Relationships
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Adolescent Identity Development and Self-Concept
  • Developmental Trauma
  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions
  • Mental Health Accessibility in Academic Settings

Francesca is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received her B.S. with a double major in Family & Child Sciences and Psychology from Florida State University and her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy along with a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling from Appalachian State University. She is interested in researching the potential holistic health benefits of integrating Family Therapy into the education system, as a means of early intervention for students. Specifically, she would like to look at the effects of parental and teacher engagement, access, cultural context, and other factors, on child and family development, common diagnoses in children, academic achievement, and academic success. Her research is grounded in the belief that change stems from awareness and acceptance. Francesca hopes to pursue a career as both a faculty member focused on clinical research and as a practicing clinician.

Francesca is originally from the Bronx, NY but grew up in sunny South Florida. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher – 200 hours and enjoys both teaching and taking classes. When not on her yoga mat, she finds joy in going on adventures, listening to live music, reading at coffee shops, or spending the day relaxing with her husband and their dog, Thor.

Carson Outler

Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Risk and Resilience
  • Intersectionality
  • Attachment
  • Self of the Therapist

Carson is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received both her B.S. in Psychology and her Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Her primary research interests include risk, resilience, and intersectionality. Carson is passionate about creating research that centers around marginalized families and hopes to use her research to advocate for systemic change. In the future, she aims to work as a professor at the master’s level where she can help train the next generation of Marriage and Family Therapists.

In her free time, Carson enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She loves binging the newest tv shows, playing tennis, and listening to music.

Sung Min Pearl Park

Marriage and Family Therapy

Pearl’s Vita

  • Attachment-based therapy
  • Developmental trauma
  • Parenting and parent-child relationship
  • Repeating problems
  • Immigrant families

Pearl is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, and her Master’s degree in MFT at Adler Graduate School in Minnesota. She loves meeting clients as a marriage and family therapist and is pursuing doctoral degree in MFT to be an advanced researcher as well as more competent therapist. Some of her primary research interests include attachment-based approach especially for people with developmental trauma, dynamics between traumatized children and parents, and parenting. She is also interested in the repeating problems that persist at multiple points of individuals’ lives.

Pearl loves traveling around the world, especially to the places with beautiful mountains to climb. She enjoys outdoor activities such as climbing, outdoor yoga, and running, and she’s looking forward to trying surfing in Florida beach.

Kinsey Pocchio

Marriage and Family Therapy

Kinsey’s Vita

  • Social work
  • Medical Family Therapy
  • Parent-child relationships
  • The influence of Marriage and Family Therapy throughout different agencies
  • Children’s health

Kinsey is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She pursued her B.A. at Mercer University, double majoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. After graduation, she accepted a Graduate Assistant position and was given the opportunity to complete her Master of Family Therapy degree at Mercer as well. Kinsey has experience working in the department of family and child services and has a passion for the field of social work. In addition to her previous training in this field, she also has extensive experience in the Medical Family Therapy system. Kinsey plans to continue efforts to understand the role and influence of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) in both the social work and medical systems. Through both aspects of her research, Kinsey plans on finding ways in which MFT’s can broaden their understanding on health, relationships, and wellbeing alongside ways in which this field can positively impact the development of children.

Kinsey loves music, clothes, and warm weather. In her free time she spends time with her loved ones, online shops, and goes to the gym. She is excited for the opportunity to be closer to the beach and experience life in the sunshine state!

Dissertation Project

I am in the beginning stages of crafting my dissertation. My primary focus at this time is the connection between mental and physical health. I specifically enjoy focusing on child related health outcomes within this body of my research.

Collaborative Works

Dr. Grzywacz and I are working alongside Dr. Parker to present research at this year’s AAMFT conference. We are presenting in the research forum “Parenting Children with Disabilities: The Effects on Health Outcomes”.

Parker, M., Pocchio, K., & Grzywacz, J. (2019). Parenting children with disabilities: The effects on health outcomes. Forum presentation at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy annual conference: Austin, TX.

Working with Dr. Joe

I truly enjoy having an opportunity to work with Dr. Joe, especially because he is not a Marriage and Family Therapist. He provides me with unique ways of looking at my research due to his extensive background in other fields and this has helped opened my eyes to the possibility of my future work.

Another item I find especially helpful when working with Dr. Joe is his ability to make me feel that I am on track in our program (even when I cannot see this for myself). Being in a Ph.D. program as competitive as the ones provided at Research 1 institutes, such as FSU, can take a toll on anyone’s ability to see the bigger picture. I, in particular, am very product oriented and often have difficulty seeing the ways in which I am growing outside of my publications. Dr. Joe does a great job in providing me with the “bigger picture” outlook of my progress in our department and is great at helping me to stay motivated and productive each day at FSU!

One big difficulty tat one should be aware of when signing up to work with Dr. Joe is that his many different roles within, and outside, of our department make his time limited each day/week. He does a great job of setting up an online calendar so that individuals can see when he is available to meet; however, things may, and will, come up at the last minute. As one of Dr. Joe’s students it is important to be aware that flexibility with Dr. Joe is important if you need to meet with him. I also find it useful to check in at the end of each meeting to confirm if your next meeting time still works for the both of you (this is especially useful if you have weekly set times you meet with him like many of us do!).

My final item of advice when working with Dr. Joe is to be aware that he does talk fast! Dr. Joe has a lot of feedback to offer in each and every meeting we have and I have found it beneficial to bring a notepad to take notes on as he talks. Without notes, you are likely to get overwhelmed and forget all of the advice/directions he just gave and this can lead to any awkward conversation later if you need to be reminded what you were supposed to be working on.

Lauren Selice

Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Mindfulness interventions
  • Parent-child relationships

Lauren is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is originally from Florida where she earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of Central Florida and her M.S./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Florida State University. Lauren’s research interests include mindfulness-based interventions, specifically targeted at increasing empathy and satisfaction within couple relationships.

Lauren grew up in Florida but much prefers the mountains of North Carolina, where she often visits with her partner and their Samoyed, Arlo. Additionally, she loves spending time with her family and tending to her plants.

Kayla Stange

Human Development & Family Science

Kayla’s Vita

  • Parental influences on the development of anxiety disorders in children
  • Family-based therapeutic intervention

Kayla is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Her advisor is Dr. Ming Cui. She graduated with her B.A. in Psychology at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kayla has worked in a variety of different clinical settings with children, which led to her passion of researching youth populations. Her current research focuses on how negative mothering attitudes influence childhood anxiety symptoms. Kayla plans on going into academia after graduation, with goals to be a research mentor and professor.

Kayla most importantly loves spending time with her friends, family, and partner, Patrick. She enjoys spending time outside in nature, especially while walking her dogs.

Dania Tawfiq

Marriage and Family Therapy

Dania’s Vita

  • Therapeutic Alliance
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Self of Therapist
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Intergenerational Transmission
  • Intersectionality
  • Tele-mental Health
  • Implications of Mindfulness

Dania is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She earned her M.S./Ed.S. degrees in Mental Health Counseling at Florida State University. Dania is a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern in the State of Florida practicing at the Center for Couple and Family Therapy. Dania developed her passion for mental health during her training and work as a crisis counselor for both local and national crisis hotlines. During her master’s training, she developed a passion for addressing mental health through a systemic lens. She hopes to contribute to the field of systemic research by addressing concepts that impact therapeutic outcomes and the diverse populations it can affect. During her doctoral education, Dania has set the intention to strengthen her skills as a researcher, clinician, educator, and supervisor. Dania’s goal is to contribute to the training of future therapists, and the overall advancement of the mental health field.

Dania is always up to trying new things and approach life with humor and curiosity. She enjoys activities like gardening, kayaking, and biking. She loves art and creation in many forms from painting to woodworking. Dania is not ashamed to express her passion for reality tv and has been committed to the Real Housewives and 90 Day franchises since their inception.

Nick Triplett

Marriage and Family Therapy

Nick’s Vita

  • Ethics and professional conduct
  • Mentorship and clinical pedagogy
  • Intersectionality
  • Clinical issues of death and dying
  • Gerontology and aging clinical populations

Nick is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University Southeast and later, his M.S. in Couple & Family Therapy from Purdue University Northwest. Nick is passionate about understanding the role of therapy – and therapists – in helping foster effective and just systemic change in relational systems; both inside and outside of the therapy room. His research interests primarily focus on the use of relational ethics in clinical and professional decision-making, as well the use of an intersectional perspective in guiding effective mentorship and training of emerging therapists. Additionally, he also has specific scholarly interests in issues facing aging clinical populations, and how therapists systemically conceptualize death and the dying process in therapeutic settings. Nick aims to one day serve as an instructor and supervisor for Master’s-level MFT trainees, where he will be able to directly witness and contribute to the development of the next generation of systemic therapists and scholar-clinicians.

Whether it’s going camping, hiking, or just taking an easy drive around the scenic back roads of his hometown in Southern Indiana, Nick is at his happiest in nature. He is also a fan of table-top role-playing games, and gets together regularly with friends and colleagues from across the country to catch-up, tell stories, and roll a few dice!