We're delighted to announce that Gia Naranjo-Rivera will be doing her dissertation (or thesis research) on our mindfulness courses! Gia is a Cuban-American yoga and mindfulness instructor, youth program leader, and doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
As a Brown Community Health Scholar at Johns Hopkins, her studies focus on adolescent health and development, specializing in vulnerable youth and mixed methods research – which involves integrating quantitative (e.g., experiments, surveys) and qualitative (e.g., interviews, focus groups) information. Gia’s dissertation will assess how mindfulness-based interventions improve health outcomes among youth with past or present adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or dysfunctional home lives.
Gia is excited to partner with Peace in Schools to assess the changes in health and wellness seen in students who participate in our Mindful Studies courses, and advance our understanding of who these classes benefit and why. She will administer and analyze the data from evaluations that students complete assessing their health and wellbeing at the beginning and end of the class, and conduct focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders to gather additional information. She will examine changes in student health outcomes across all students and by subgroups, such as by gender, age, race/ethnicity, and the level of exposure to adverse experiences or traumas.
Gia says that personal, academic and professional experiences have impassioned her to improve the health and quality of life for vulnerable, low-income, and minority youth, families, and communities. She received Master of Public Administration and in International Relations degrees from the Syracuse University in 2011 and a BA in Political Science from Columbia University in 2008. She has conducted research for organizations including the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, and MacArthur Foundation.
Putting her knowledge into practice, Gia has also managed youth programs from the Oregon coast to New York City, served as a Public Health Analyst at the National Cancer Institute, and worked on human rights initiatives with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Human Rights Watch. Through these experiences, she discovered her passion for working with vulnerable adolescents, and their families and communities, and the need to develop effective, affordable, evidenced-based programs to improve youth outcomes.
We couldn't be happier to have Gia lend her talents to study our program and help further the body of research on mindfulness in education!