Myeshia Price: Alumna's Research Cited in USA Today
California State University, Dominguez Hills alumna Myeshia Price (Class of ’06, B.A., psychology) had her research as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison cited in an article in USA Today last fall.
Price, who is in her second year of pursuing her doctorate in developmental psychology, and Dr. Janet Hyde, an expert in the areas of women, human psychology and gender-role development, recently completed a two-year study of 273 children in which they looked for predictors of early sexual behavior. They reported their findings at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality meeting in Indianapolis last November.
“My main reason for wanting to do it was to find what kinds of factors can lead these kids into [dangerous sexual behaviors] and what can be done to stop it,” says Price. “It’s been shown in the research that if they engage in these behaviors before they’re 15, they’re less likely to use condoms and more likely to report more partners and things that can lead to unplanned, early pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections.”
Price cites factors such as low self-esteem, poor relationships with parents and high levels of television viewing as contributors to early sexual behavior among teens. She points out that the behaviors are caused by an accumulation of many factors, not just one. She also states that many of the factors can be countered by conditions that they found among their research subjects.
“You can watch all the TV you want, but if you have very supportive parents, that can buffer the TV,” she says.
Price and Hyde conducted the study using measures including pubertal development, sexual behavior, academic achievement, self-esteem, depression levels and participation in sports. Overall, their finding showed that parents have a large influence over the adolescent’s sexual debut, particularly in regard to their relationships with the adolescents, their own status as single parents or parents in a couple, and their own education levels. Price suggests that parental involvement plays the most important role in the prevention of early and risky sexual behavior.
“The parents think, ‘What can we do to get them in these programs and have the schools take care of it?’ But they can do a lot themselves,” she says.
Price, who is a first-generation college student, says that her own parents were very influential in shaping her academic goals.
“I never thought that I was not going to go to college,” she says. “My parents had a huge influence on me. It was never an option for me to not do well in school. My dad said, ‘You get a C for just showing up,’ so Cs were never [considered acceptable].”
Among Price’s career aspirations are plans to establish a summer camp for at-risk youth. She relates her definition of what puts adolescents at risk for behavior that is detrimental to a fulfilling and productive future, and how encouraging their education is a step toward deterring such behavior.
“A lot of times it’s the neighborhood they’re in, what kind of path they may be on in terms of their expected future,” she says. “And it’s basically the things they have to look forward to. They’re trying to figure out what to model their behavior after and what’s the cool thing to do. Unfortunately they don’t always have the right kind of [role] models. It’s about stepping in there early and showing them that going to school and doing well with it is not necessarily the nerdy thing to do, but the only way they’re going to be successful in the long run.”
Another major influence upon Price’s education was her three years in the McNair Scholars Program at CSU Dominguez Hills.
“A friend of mine was joining and she said I should do it with her,” recalls Price. “It just so happened that it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I didn’t think I was going on to grad school when I first got here, and I definitely didn’t realize that you could go straight from a bachelor’s to a Ph.D. program. That kind of influence was tremendous in helping me get to where I am now.”
Price is grateful to Jennifer Vega LaSerna, former director of the Dominguez Hills McNair Program for her guidance during Price’s grad school application process and the opportunity to work with assistant professor of psychology Karen Mason on the doctor’s HIV/AIDS research while Price was still an undergraduate.
“If there is anything that will make you stand out from the other applicants, it’s the research,” Price says. “I was able to complete three projects and presented them as an undergrad. My advisor [at the University of Wisconsin] was showing me how to find articles online and I told her, ‘I already know how to do that,’ which is something she didn’t expect.”
Price also credits the individualized attention that is available to students at Dominguez Hills as another key to her success as a graduate student.
“A lot of people in my classes have done papers or research, but they did them in huge groups,” she says. “But we did it here in smaller groups or individually. They wouldn’t have the time to read [our papers] individually if there were 200 students in a class. We got the feedback that we needed.”
Price, who will use her doctorate to continue researching and teaching with a focus on adolescent development and sexuality, values the diversity that she experienced as a student at Dominguez Hills.
“The high school I went to was probably about 90 percent European American,” says the San Diego native. “So when I was applying to colleges, I didn’t want to go to a college like that, I wanted to be in a diverse atmosphere. I was looking at different campuses in the counseling center and I saw an advertisement for Dominguez Hills that said something about being really diverse. So I said, ‘I have to go there.’ I knew this was where I wanted to come, because of the diversity.”
In her research at the University of Wisconsin, Price and her mentor largely deal with a predominantly white population. She underscores the value of diverse surroundings in academia and hopes to work with populations of color in her future studies.
“When we do research, we can’t generalize our findings because our population we research is 90 percent white,” she says. “At Dominguez Hills, we have a diverse population, in ethnicity, age and culture. I’m very grateful to have gone to school here and have experienced that type of environment.”
- Joanie Harmon