Certificate Alumni

As of May 2016, 37 Duke undergrads have received the Child Policy Research certificate (formerly called the Children in Contemporary Society certificate). Alumni of the certificate program majored in sociology, public policy studies, psychology and neuroscience, and environmental science and policy and are now working for a variety of organizations, including health care consulting firms, an environmental science program for children and Teach for America. Other alums are furthering their education by pursuing law degrees, master’s degrees or doctoral degrees.

Learn about the 2016 graduates’ research projects and find out where they are now.

Stay connected through the Duke Alumni Directory

Take full advantage of your Duke alumni resources by updating your profile in the Duke Alumni Association directory. The directory is your key to staying connected to Duke, the Center for Child and Family Policy and the Duke alumni community. An up-to-date listing allows us to communicate with you and offer ways for you to be involved with the certificate program.

To access the directory and update your profile, you will need to register, creating your own user name and password. Once registered, you can search all Duke alumni according to a variety of search criteria (class year, geographic area, etc.). The directory also allows you to see and update the contact information we currently have on file for you.

Review your directory profile today and make any changes necessary online: www.dukealumni.com.

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Karmel Wong Choi: The Power of a Mother’s Love

Karmel Wong Choi first became interested in the critically important bonds between mothers and infants during her undergraduate years at Duke, as a student in the Center for Child and Family Policy’s Child Policy Research Certificate program. As a Certificate student, Wong Choi worked closely with Lisa Berlin, now an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Berlin introduced Wong Choi to attachment theory, the study of how emotional bonds, such as those between infants and their primary caregivers, shape child development and behavior.

Working with Berlin, Wong Choi examined how a history of abuse can influence a mother’s later attachment with her baby. She became particularly interested in “disorganized attachment,” the confused emotional bond between caregiver and child that often results from early trauma or loss.

After graduating in 2010, Wong Choi travelled to Udaipur, India, for ten months with the aid of Duke’s Hart Leadership Program. There, Wong Choi worked with Action Research and Training for Health (ARTH) to conduct a community-based research project on the intersection of medical and mental health among mothers.

Now a graduate student in clinical psychology, Wong Choi renewed her connection with the Center for Child and Family Policy as a 2013-2014 Sulzberger/Levitan Graduate Research Fellow. She worked with Kathy Sikkema, professor of psychology and neuroscience, researching pregnant women’s alcohol use in South Africa, where there is widespread concern about the problem of drinking during pregnancy. More broadly, Wong Choi is interested in mental health of mothers in the perinatal period and their resilience in the face of trauma and violence.

As she pursues those questions, she often reflects on the themes of early attachment that she first studied as an undergraduate. In India, Wong Choi was able to observe mothers and babies in deeply challenging circumstances.  The experience altered her view of love, she notes in a Mother’s Day essay that appeared in 2011 in the Durham Herald-Sun.

“I had thought of love and being loved as icing on the cake, a fluffy saccharine bonus  – something people fret about missing only when they aren’t starving,” Wong Choi writes. “But even amid scarce resources…a mother’s care makes a most substantial difference.”