A BCTR staff member earned an award from the Department of Communication for her work as a graduate student.
Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for the ACT for Youth Center for Community Action at the BCTR, is working on her doctorate degree in communication through Cornell’s Employee Degree Program, which provides employees with full tuition toward undergraduate and graduate degree programs after they have been working at Cornell for one year.
This spring, the Department of Communication awarded her the Anson E. Rowe Award for a Promising Graduate Student for 2019 for her “research productivity, teaching excellence, and contribution to the communication community.”
Purington is studying communication as a social phenomenon, which relates directly to her work with ACT for Youth, where she is currently collaborating on research describing attitudes and beliefs about sexual health, as well as access to sexual health care, among adolescents and young adults in New York State.
“Throughout my professional and academic career, I’ve been interested in helping children and adolescents live healthy, happy lives – and I’ve constantly seen that communication is a protective factor in so many domains of child and adolescent development, such as adolescent sexual health or mental health,” she said.
“It’s often described as ‘positive, open’ communication, but what does that really mean? And how do we help parents and other adults who care about young people engage in this communication with the youth in their lives? That’s what led me to the Department of Communication.”
Purington is also studying the role of digital technologies in the lives of children and adolescents. As part of her doctorate program, she works in Associate Professor Natalie Bazarova’s social media lab.
“My two kids are growing up in a world so very different from the one I did, with access to this whole online world that was only just starting to exist when I was a child,” she said. “How do I help them navigate that world? How do I help other parents and adults help the kids they love navigate this world?”
Purington said she manages to juggle work, her studies and family life with focused time management, weekly planning meetings with her family and prioritizing what’s important.
“I think you also have to have patience and try to keep the big picture in mind – all of this work, all the late nights and early mornings, will result in something incredibly worthwhile,” she said. Also, I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by support.”