Sam was born and raised in Pikesville, MD, just outside of Baltimore. His family is traditionally and culturally Jewish, and almost all of his childhood and adolescent experiences centered around their faith and religion. He began his career at UMD as a chemistry major and continued that study into his junior year. However, Sam thirsted for something involving people, and found the family science department. Studying families was of particular interest to him due to the intricacy of the family, the relationships that ensue within the family, and the changing “family” of the 21st century. Additionally, he wanted to study families further to better understand his own. In the department, Sam has enjoyed the research methods class(FMSC302), which taught him the process of social science research and how to go about executing such research projects.
He is the current President of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the FMSC honor society, and of Phi Alpha Epsilon, the honor society of SPH. Outside of SPH, he is also on the executive cabinet of the Student Government Association and a member of Rak Shalom, an awesome campus acapella group. He was a TA for organic chemistry, led Rainbow Terrapin Network trainings, and teaches Zumba™ at the gym on campus. He is currently a member of the FMSC Chair’s undergraduate advisory committee. Additionally, he worked on one of Dr. Grutzmacher’s research projects this past summer, with a text-message-based intervention program for low-income families focusing on nutrition literacy and accessibility. More personally, he is presently working on his own departmental honors thesis under the auspices of Dr. Moser-Jones, performing a qualitative analysis of gay men from traditional Jewish homes and their relationships with their mothers; exploring how this relationship changed and/or was affected by the disclosure of their homosexuality. This last project represents his true research interests – studying how adolescents’ coming out process affects familial relationships and dynamics.
Sam is in the process of applying to PhD programs and hopes to become a professor, family researcher, and interventionist in the future. He is tri-lingual and in his spare time enjoys cooking (he went to culinary school last summer), socializing, and staying fit (going to the gym, teaching Zumba™ classes, etc.). One piece of advice he would give to incoming freshmen is to explore what the University has to offer – both academically and otherwise – to truly see what interests them and what they are passionate about. His life adage is: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Natalie Gaudette is a senior Family Science major.
Natalie is from Colchester, Connecticut. Her parents passed away when she was ten, and she went to live first with her maternal, then paternal grandparents. Growing up was very challenging because although she had a great support system, she moved around a lot. She knew coming into college that she wanted to be a high school guidance counselor, but was unsure of how to get there. She was initially an elementary education major, but during her freshman year her Freshman Connection adviser told her about Family Science. She realized that it was perfect for her; it trains her to work with families, which is what she’s really passionate about. In the department she has really enjoyed the Couple Relationships course because it seemed so applicable to her own life, the lives of her peers, and of her loved ones. In addition, a lot of the skills she learned in that class translate to any kind of relationship, including professional ones. Learning more about communication and effective interpersonal problem-solving was a great reinforcement of her skill set, especially for school counseling.
Natalie is currently an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Alpha Delta Pi is a sisterhood of women who have a commitment to helping each other become the people they want to be and supporting each other on their academic, social, and mental journeys to the “real world.” She loves being a part of this organization because she was immediately welcomed into the chapter and was able to take on a leadership role. As a recruitment chair, she’s been able to work on many skills that she will need in the future such as time management, planning, teamwork, and communication. In addition to the social aspects, the networking opportunities are plentiful. Natalie finds that it’s nice to know that she has such a strong network of women internationally to look to any time she needs help with something.
Natalie has been a research assistant for three semesters. Currently, she is a Federal Work Scholar for Dr. Moser-Jones. Their work focuses on homelessness and how the stigma of homelessness has developed and changed throughout history. Natalie’s own research interests revolve around adolescent experiences and interpersonal relationships, especially resiliency and friendship relationships among adolescents. These seem to be very important topics that she will likely encounter as a school counselor. Since bullying has been in our country’s radar a lot in the past decade, she is very interested in how students handle being bullied and handle their friends being bullied. She is applying to City Year in Washington, DC, a position that entails being a role model, tutor, and mentor for students in schools.
One piece of advice she would give to incoming students: Network, network, network. She has learned that if you do not form great relationships with faculty, you will be missing out on opportunities for professional development. In her spare time Natalie loves to write. In addition, she does volunteer work, particularly with HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) which is an organization she has been involved with since she was 15 years old. Natalie also enjoys public speaking; she was a SARPP Peer Educator through the Health Center for two years and is now a consultant for a women’s empowerment company. The best piece of advice she’s received is that you learn more by doing things wrong than doing things right. She has learned valuable lessons from not having things go as planned.
Limunga Moki is a sophomore Family Science major.
Limunga is of Cameroonian descent, was born in Tarrytown, New York and moved to Maryland when she was 7 years old. Her family is very driven; all of the adults in her family were born and raised in Cameroon, Africa. Her parents endured hardship in Cameroon and vowed to make sure that their children would understand the value of hard work and the significance of being self-sufficient. Limunga’s interest in the FMSC department stems from her goal to become a pediatrician. She chose family science because it provides an insightful perspective on delivering healthcare services to families. Families should not be strictly regarded as an assortment of cells or abstract patients, and Limunga finds the field of family science views persons as individuals of various ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Taking these systemic factors into account is extremely important when delivering health care services to families and she believes that this approach will make her a well-rounded and excellent doctor.
Limunga’s favorite course thus far has been Children in Families (FMSC332). She enjoyed it because the course directly connects o her goal of being a doctor by focusing on the development of infants, toddlers, and children in the context of the family. Limunga’s research interests revolve around children in the family setting. She is currently involved in the Mount Ephraim dance ministry, FMSC Undergraduate Advisory Committee, Junior Medical Reserve Corps, Primannum Honor Society, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Networking through these activities has contributed immensely to her undergraduate experience thus far and taught her many new things. One piece of advice that she would give an incoming student would be to buy books early, start getting familiar with courses before the first day of class, and to not be afraid to ask your professors questions.
Limunga is a French speaker, as it is one of Cameroon’s official languages, and she has also studied it in school. Her biggest hobby is dance. She and her sister serve as the Mount Ephraim Dance Ministry coordinators. They develop dances, teach them to youth in their church, and minister them to the congregation every fifth Sunday. The best advice anyone has ever given her came from her Uncle Joe who said “Limunga, be like a palm tree. In a fierce storm, the rain and wind will blow the palm tree and try to push it over. Because a palm tree is very strong and resilient, it may bend, but it will not break. College will have many storms that will test you—things may arise that try to push you over and break you. But I want to tell you that you may bend, but you will not break because you are strong and resilient just like a palm tree.”