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Laurel Pulford

Elevator Speech
IRII

My name is Laurel Pulford, I am a senior here at River Hill researching the

emotional preparedness of high school students for college. Last year, I researched

adolescent depression prevention programs under the guidance of Heather Freed,

the executive director of Erikas Lighthouse, a non-profit organization seeking to

increase adolescent awareness of teen depression. I have researched adolescent

depression prevention programs, factors that effect their efficacy, and the

emotional preparedness of high schoolers for college.

In March 2016, I conducted a survey of Howard Countys graduated class of

2015 in order to better understand how emotionally prepared the respondents were

for college on a basis of development of coping skills and emotional tendencies.

The results could not point me toward a definitive conclusion, but they did lead to

some concerning analyses. For example, my data collection showed that of the 50

Howard County 2015 graduates surveyed, the number of students that drank

alcohol when stressed or overwhelmed between their final year of high school and

their first term of college increased by 40%. Furthermore, 60% of surveyed college

students agreed with the statement I wish I had more help getting emotionally

ready for college.

Recognizing the importance of my unfinished research, I chose to continue

into this school year with the goal of promoting my final results and conclusions.

In my extension of my research, I conducted 16 interviews with high school


Laurel Pulford
Elevator Speech
IRII

counselors and psychologists, and a local college counselor in order to gain a better

perspective of the initiatives and successes of the county and schools regarding

student emotional development.

I found that there was a general trend that most counselors, the most

important emotional resource for students in high schools, were not able to put

forth any new programs or initiatives toward student emotional health due to other

responsibilities working toward appeasing the academic initiatives primarily set

forth by the Howard County Public School System. Furthermore, each schools

culture was typically described as high stress and competitive which means

these students need to seek coping outlets for their incredible, often chronic stress.

And with the normality of a partying culture it is understandable that students find

drinking and using drugs as a sustainable coping resource.

Working with Dr. Cynthia Schulmeyer, coordinator of Howard County

school psychologists, and Joan Webb-Scornaienchi, director of HCDrugFree, I

will present my findings by the end of this month through various media outlets

through HCDrugFree.