PhD Candidate Rachel Ludeke Receives APHA Public Health Social Work Section Student Paper Award
By NYU Silver CommunicationsSep 3, 2021
NYU Silver PhD Candidate Rachel Ludeke received the American Public Health Association (APHA) Public Health Social Work Section’s 2021 award for Outstanding Student Paper. She will be presenting her award-winning paper, “‘Why is my skin intimidating to you?’: Exploring social connectivity and racial identity of minority youth with child welfare experience,” in an oral session at the APHA’s 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo on October 26.
The paper, which discusses the interconnectedness of racial identity and aging out of the foster care system in the current racially charged political climate, is a qualitative study based on interviews with 14 youth who participated in a performing arts program in New York City. In the interviews, Rachel explored how the youths’ racial identities affect their social connectedness and the support provided by their friends, caseworkers, and other trusted individuals through the usage of egocentric social network analysis. “Results,” Rachel said, “indicate three areas of concern for BIPOC youth regarding the recent rise of police brutality in the United States: 1) building sense of community amongst other BIPOC foster youth and non-BIPOC youth, 2) unstable mental health due to current and past racial discrimination, and 3) fear of police brutality due to protest participation. Youth are challenged with how to appropriately have conversations with their non-BIPOC peers while retaining their social network connections.”
The paper is part of Rachel’s mixed methods dissertation study, in which she uses social network analysis to explore transitioning foster youth support networks as they consider educational and employment opportunities after they age out of care. She aims to defend her dissertation during the 2021-2022 academic year.