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Family inspires student to obtain educational psychology doctorate

December 08, 2009

The road to a doctoral degree has been a challenging but rewarding journey for Laura Gonzales-Macias, the first in her family to receive a Ph.D.

She has always worked while attending Arizona State University. First, to get her master’s degree in school psychology and now, she will receive her doctorate in educational psychology on Dec. 17. While studying and working, Gonzales-Macias also has raised two children with her husband, George, who has been extremely supportive of her educational goals.

Her research specialization is in school psychology and her dissertation topic is titled, “Consequences of Asthma in Elementary Students.”

“It’s more than just a topic,” says Gonzales-Macias. “I’m passionate about research on this leading chronic disease in children. My son, Aidan, was diagnosed with asthma when he turned 3 years old. It’s crucial to examine the educational consequences of the disease in the context of school, where children spend much of their day.”

The 2,000-hour required internship leading to her degree was completed part-time over two years by special permission from the Arizona Psychological Association Consortium, due to family commitments. While interning in Scottsdale under a licensed psychologist, she obtained permission to study asthma and its impact on education in the school district. The Arizona Association of School Psychologists awarded a grant to help collect data for her dissertation on asthma.

“ASU has provided me with mentors to guide many aspects of my academic and professional endeavors,” says Gonzales-Macias. “I am grateful to many faculty for a variety of reasons, but mostly for their encouragement.”

She is especially grateful to her committee chair, David Wodrich, for his unwavering support and guidance, as well as committee members Marilyn Thompson and Linda Caterino Kulhavy.

“I’m elated now to hear my 8-year-old daughter, Riley, talk about publishing and earning a doctorate,” says Gonzales-Macias. “I’ll be happy with the dreams she pursues in life and I’m grateful that this doctorate is a gift I can give her that has shared meaning in our family.”


Written by:
Michele St. George