Shortly after Dr. Alyson Gerdes arrived on campus in 2004, she opened a childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder specialty clinic in Marquette’s Center for Psychological Services to provide treatment to families in need. The associate professor of psychology quickly learned that a significant share of these families was Latino, struggling to find local health care practitioners who could speak Spanish and recognize the group’s cultural needs. In the decade since, Gerdes’ efforts to help Latino children with ADHD include developing improved assessment tools for Spanish-speaking children, providing Latino mothers and fathers with parent training sessions in their native tongue, and, most recently, adapting treatments to remove culturally conflicting elements. The strategic use of timeouts, for example, is a mainstay of standard parent training modules, says Gerdes. “But we found our Latino parents had two major issues: It was pretty incongruent with their notion of familism, to isolate a child from the rest of the family, and timeouts were not a strong enough discipline for a child who demonstrated repeated disrespect to elders.” If Gerdes had arrived on campus more recently, she would have encountered a university actively collaborating on efforts to improve the well-being of
the Latino community. The roots of the collaboration formed around the same time Gerdes joined Marquette with two colleagues — Drs. Lisa Edwards and Lucas Torres — who would later join the Marquette faculty but were then enrolled in postdoctoral studies at the University of Notre Dame. “We were in awe at how well Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies brought people together from different disciplines and fostered collaboration in research,” says Edwards, now an associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology in Marquette’s College of Education. “We wanted to develop a similar intellectual space to generate and collaborate on Latino research here at Marquette, and we knew that would fill a great need in the Milwaukee community,” adds Torres, an associate professor of psychology in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. More than a year ago, the two began the launch of Marquette’s Latina/o Well-being Research Initiative. Though Torres and Edwards teach different disciplines in different colleges, they share firsthand cultural experiences that motivate their pursuits of
research for a burgeoning community
Dr. Lisa Edwards
By Sarah Painter Koziol
As Latino populations continue to grow nationwide, Marquette researchers collaborate to address their needs.
Associate Professor, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Research for a burgeoning community