New crop of psych research winners at Sacred Heart Academy


Once again, Hempstead’s Sacred Heart Academy has guided a contingent of its students to significant recognition of their scholarly work.

Eleven young women had their papers chosen to be presented at the 2023 Association for Psychological Science Convention (see box).

Nine of the students are seniors, and two are juniors. All are 17 years old. Each defined and developed her own research topic.

The topics ranged from gender-based price discrimination, to stigmatization of learning-disabled students, to negativity bias. Some topics were based in physical health, such as the effect of food allergies on adolescent achievement, or the effectiveness of an asthma self-report app.

The papers resulting from the student research were quite impressive. Gabrielle Augustin’s 33-page paper, for instance, included 5,200 words of text, 14 pages of tables and five appendices.

Augustin explained, “My paper was about how discrimination and low representation in a coeducational public school, and also in a single-sex school (Sacred Heart Academy), affects the education of those underrepresented minority students, both males and females.”

With subscales of diversity, equity, representation, grade progress, and caringness, Augustin’s study showed that, “Many underrepresented students don’t feel equally treated, based on teacher responses, compared to their white counterpart peers, so they are less motivated to excel.” She hopes her project will help inspire change.

Madeleine Graham’s project, “Students and teachers: Perspectives of happiness in a post-pandemic America,” assessed more than 200 student and faculty responses to a three-part survey. One finding was that teachers feel they get insufficient credit for their impact on students at all grade levels. Graham says they deserve better.

“Teachers are the profession that creates professions,” Graham said.

Katherine Lynch’s paper explored the academic success of students who have a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. But she doesn’t want to go into psychology; her favorite part of the project was putting her data into statistical form.

“Katherine is a really good example of how we train the students to research different things, apart from topics to which they are most drawn,” said Dr. Stephen Sullivan, the research director for the projects.

The taboo surrounding menstruation was Lauren McCarthy’s focus. Her project showed that open, guided discussion of menstruation reduced the shame and anxiety felt by both male and female students. She has put her findings into action by leading group discussions at youth gatherings like Girl Scouts.

“It’s really important for women not to feel conflict about themselves,” McCarthy said, “especially something so natural as menstruation and childbirth.”