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Doctoral grad looks at gender, acculturation to study substance abuse

May 01, 2012

Julie Nagoshi is fascinated by human nature.

Nagoshi has devoted a career to higher education so she can explore why people do the things they do, particularly in regard to gender roles and identity and acculturation.

Graduating this May from ASU’s School of Social Work, in the College of Public Programs, Nagoshi will earn her doctoral degree in social work and continue her research on intersecting social identities and their impact on mental health and substance abuse.

“I’m researching how gender roles, masculinity and femininity, interact with acculturation to increase or decrease the risk for substance use in Mexican-American adolescents,” she says. Nagoshi’s research stems from her interest in gender identity, for which she earned a certificate from ASU in gender studies.

“My hope is to design a substance use intervention based on empowering individuals with intersecting oppressed identities,” she says.

Her studies also led her to work as a research associate at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at ASU – a center focused on conducting transdisciplinary minority health and health disparities research, training and community outreach.

A major question underlying Nagoshi’s research is whether our ideas about our own gender and related identities are the result of social expectations and enforcement or whether they are constructs of our own design.

Nagoshi received her master’s degree in social work, with a concentration in child welfare, from Arizona State University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in family and human development from ASU.

What made her time at the university so significant was her exposure to multidisciplinary perspectives – reflected in her various degree programs – which have made her research and studies all the more dynamic, she says.

“I also appreciated the interactions I had with so many stimulating, caring and informative faculty, staff and fellow students,” she says. “I also enjoyed teaching as a graduate student.”  

Even though receiving her degree this spring represents an end point, Nagoshi says her work has just begun.   

“I am looking forward to continuing to be able to teach and do research.”