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Chapman, Smokowski honored for their work with Latino youth

On March 24, UNC’s Carolina Center for Public Service honored the “graduation” of its inaugural group of Faculty Engaged Scholars, the class of 2008-09. In this two-year fellowship program, the scholars connected their faculty work with the needs of a community, and they applied their skills to make a difference. Each scholar received a financial stipend of up to $7,500 per year in support of their project.

Of the eight in this accomplished group, two are from the School of Social Work — Mimi Chapman, Ph.D. and Paul Smokowski, Ph.D.

In 2000, Chapman and a colleague from the UNC Department of Public Policy established the Latino Adolescent Migration, Health and Adaption Project, the first population-based study of mental health, migration and acculturation among first-generation Latino youth living in North Carolina. Expansion of the project involved dissemination of the findings to state-level advocates, teachers and service providers. Chapman’s current work, Creating Confianza, is a partnership between Chatham County, the UNC School of Social Work and El Futuro, a mental health clinic serving Latinos. The goal of this partnership is to create a system of care through early intervention and cultural brokerage for new Latino immigrant middle and high school students experiencing mental health difficulties.

Smokowski has fashioned his research around acculturation and health behavior in Latino families. In 2004, he received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health Promotion Research Initiative and created the Latino Acculturation and Health Project (LAHP). The LAHP study followed more than 450 immigrant families in Arizona over a three-year period to examine changes in acculturation and health behaviors. During the Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, Smokowski continued his work on Latino immigrant families by completing the book “Becoming Bicultural: Risk, Resilience and Latino Youth,” which is being published this fall by NYU Press. He also explored the use of videogame technology for the prevention of childhood inhalant use.