Name: Lauren O’Reilly
Hometown: born in Woodward, Oklahoma and moved to California 3 days later (and fully considers herself a native); lived in Hemet, California and moved to Orange County at 14
Education:  sociology graduate student; received undergraduate degree in sociology from California State University, Fullerton
Interesting fact: Lauren is a first generation college student.  She and her husband are active monthly volunteers for Habitat for Humanity where they help build homes for low-income families and disabled veterans in San Juan Capistrano.

What interests you most about sociology?
I have always been interested in observations of people and their environments and wanted to learn more about the macro-level issues that affect families. What interests me most is how families and children adapt to stress brought about by changes in family composition and living arrangements.  During my graduate program, I have been researching the impact of multiple family transitions on child outcomes. Specifically, I am interested in whether changes in mother’s marital status, changes in children’s living situations and father’s absence lead to a multitude of child adjustment issues, such as depression/anxiety, deviant behavior, and peer pressure.

What have you found thus far?
My research concludes that both residential instability and father’s absence lead to greater reports of depression and anxiety in children who experience these transitions. Thus, it is important to understand how these changes that are becoming more common in our society impact our youth as well as the factors that leave families vulnerable to familial instability.

Why did you decide to come to UCI? 
During my undergraduate education at Cal State Fullerton, I worked with the research team for Dr. Skeem’s UCI Criminal Justice and Psychopathology Lab to fulfill my field placement requirements and quickly became interested in the research process. I had such a great experience volunteering as a research assistant that my first experience with the campus left such a positive impression that I was greatly intrigued in becoming a future student of research here at UCI.

After graduating in June, what are your plans?
I will be attending the University of Southern California Master of Social Work Program. I plan to assist military veterans and their families coping with the difficult transition process back into civilian life after the war. After becoming a licensed clinical social worker I plan to work for Veterans Affairs or a veteran’s center to help families of veterans cope with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and its effect on experiences of the family as a whole. In the far future, I hope to become a college professor teaching both psychology and sociology to a new and eager generation of students.



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