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Hello All!

I was introduced to this community by Dr. Jeanie Tietjen, Director of The Institute for Trauma, Adversity, and Resilience in Higher Education, at MassBay Community College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  In just two weeks, I have learned so much. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of such important work. The reason for my post, today, is to introduce myself, my area of interest, and a pilot research project I am undertaking.  

I am beginning a Doctorate of Leadership in Higher Education at The Van Loan School at Endicott College. My area of interest is trauma and its impact on learning, well being, and student success. I have recently completed a graduate certificate course from Lesley University (LIFTS), that focussed on developing trauma-sensitive schools at the K-12 level.  After having completed this certificate, being the mother of 5 college students (2 more still to attend), and personal experience, I am extremely passionate and driven to bring the research, study of best practices, and student support services to create trauma-informed, AND responsive college campuses and communities.

For my pilot qualitative research project, I am conducting interviews which ask the overarching question: how can colleges become trauma-informed campuses. To date, I have conducted 5 interviews with participants from a variety of positions at colleges.  These have ranged from deans in student affairs to faculty to therapists who specialize in treating college students with mental health challenges.  

If anyone has experience in conducting research like this, knowledge of any similar initiatives, or would like to collaborate in any way, please let me know.  Lastly, I would like to collaborate with someone who may be interested in writing an article titled:

When Students Graduate From High School, They Do Not Graduate From Their Trauma, As Well 

I'd love the chance to connect.  To that end and if any this resonates, please let me know. Looking forward to hearing from you and thank you very much!

Maureen McLaughlin, MBA

Doctoral Student, Ed. D. Leadership in Higher Education

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We cannot just look at students as the only members on campus who may have trauma. We must invest time and resources for employees and faculty to understand what trauma they may have and how that impacts their interactions with students. 

Additionally, let’s not exclude campus law enforcement. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance.


Maureen,  I am very interested in the outcome of your research. In addition, If I could be of any assistance I would love to partner with you.  As the Coordinator of our University Behavior Intervention Team, I have found that Trauma touches all areas of a student's life and few are equipped to overcome and become resilient.  Faculty often freeze in the face of trauma and refer out;  I am interested in how a college community can become a help seeking, caring, connected community.  Any information you have would be appreciated!  Lisa Terwilliger, University of Alaska Anchorage


I would love to know more about your research and contribute in any way I can. I am a case manager with an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program (services are delivered in the child care center) on a community college campus. I would love to see comprehensive services be available for all college students, especially foster care alumni. I work with a great team of compassionate folks who are engaged in holistic support for students and their families that I'm sure would be interested in your research as well. 

Hello friends, I'm happy to share that a colleague and I are developing a transdisciplinary handbook for college faculty, designed to increase knowledge about trauma-responsive practices in the classroom. (It will also include information on improving trauma-responsiveness for faculty/staff.)

We'll post info here when it's available; you're also welcome to reach out in the meantime if our work aligns with yours or your goals . Currently, the best way to reach me is via this contact page:

It's wonderful to connect with passionate higher ed folx on this. My interests run broad when it comes to TIC because there's so much work to be done, and as Lisa said, faculty and even staff are often not comfortable with or not sure how to support students, recognize when they are triggered themselves, etc.

I am a doctoral candidate in Antioch University's PhD in Leadership and Change program, and my dissertation research is focused on trauma-informed college and university food pantries for student success. College student food insecurity runs up to 4 times the rate of the general population and is gaining recognition as an ACE. 

I also work in Student Activities and Leadership Programs at Portland State University supervising our student-led pantry. We've been discussing TIC across student affairs, and I've facilitated a faculty development session on trauma-informed community-based learning because I have found faculty need support in thinking about how they prepare students to work with organizations that serve community populations that may have experienced trauma.

I would love to connect/collaborate! If anyone is also attending, in the Fall, I'm presenting at Trauma Informed Oregon's conference about relational practices for trauma-informed organizational change, and I'll be at the NASPA Western Regional Conference presenting with students about our journey in developing a trauma-informed food pantry (spoiler, we still have a long way to go).

Hello Maureen.  Recently The College Board implemented a program, The Environmental Context Dashboard, which is meant for colleges to take into account the socio-economic background of prospective college students.  Here is an excerpt from their recent letter to me:

"Through its history, the College Board has been focused on finding unseen talent. The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.  It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked. [Not double spaced in the original.] 

There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community – the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family’s service to our country. No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context." 

I have written to them regarding the possibility of including ACEs in this effort and have cut and pasted a copy of my explanation for you:


"When I started college, I had no mother and was estranged from my father.  This left me with no family and, therefore, no family income. I also had the disadvantage that through childhood my family was dysfunctional.  The following discussion will show how extraordinary it is that I was able to earn a college degree.

Statistics from the time, 1975, show that only 35% of children from poor families, in the lower one-fourth of family income, even enrolled in college[1].  Coincidentally, of the student population, about the same proportion (36%) are considered impoverished and housing-insecure (Goldrick-Rab, 2016).    Recent studies (Dube, 2001) have shown that childhood trauma poses an even greater disadvantage to students than poverty. Of the 10 categories of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) considered in the study, I’d had 7 before age 18.  This is true of only 0.9% of the general population (Dube, et al., 2001).   You might think then that only about 1% of poor students also had such an unhappy childhood; however, data from the National Survey of Children’s Health[2] suggests that children below the poverty line are twice as likely to experience three or more ACEs than those with higher family income (Radwin et al., 2013).  In the interest in being conservative, we will assume this relationship is close for those like me, with seven ACEs.   That being the case, 0.9% x 2 = 1.8% of impoverished students would also have endured a comparable level of childhood trauma.  Of the student population then, 36% x 0.018 = .65% were at a comparable disadvantage – about 1 in 200 college students.

Everyone reacts to stress differently but in general, 13% of students without parental financial support graduate from college these days (Bowen et al, 2009).  Of those with four or more ACEs only 7.43% graduate after six years of study (Metzler et al, 2017).  Continuing in our conservatism, let’s assume this same proportion of graduates holds for students with 7 ACEs.  Further, let’s conservatively assume that there is no synergy between the two stressors (poverty and trauma) and that 1.8% of my impoverished fellow graduates also had 7 ACEs (the same percentage as those with 4 ACEs in a hypothetical freshman class).  Then a grand total of 36% (poor students) x 0.018 (poor students with 7 ACEs) x .0743 (graduation rate) = 0.0481% would complete their education.  In other words, 1 out of about 2,079 students who started with the same disadvantages as myself graduated within six years of enrolling.  Now, for the general population:  Of the poorest 25% of families, 35% of their children started college x 0.0065 (started with comparable disadvantage) x 0.0743 (graduated) = 0.0117 % of college age Americans coming from a background comparable to mine graduated from college.  That is, out of every 8580 18 to 24-year-olds in my cohort within the general population, one graduated.  One of those was me."

I am very interested in any effort to recognize students that have overcome, or are trying to overcome, disadvantageous circumstances to make a better life for themselves.  Please keep me informed about the progress of your research and let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Charles Sultzman
Retired Marine Biologist
Vero Beach, Florida

 Literature Cited:

 Bowen, William G., Mathew M. Chingos, and Michael S. McPherson. 2009.  Crossing the Finish Line:  Completing College at America’s Public Universities.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Dube, Shanta R., Robert F. Anda, Vincent J. Felitti, Daniel P. Chapman, David F. Williamson, and Wayne H. Giles.  (2001).  Childhood Abuse, Family Dysfunction, and the Risk of Attempted Suicide Throughout the Lifespan:  Findings of the Adverse Childhood Experience Study.  Journal of the American Medical Association.  Vol. 286:24. Pp. 3089-3096.

Goldrick-Rab, Sara. (2016). Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream.  University of Chicago Press. Chicago Illinois.  260 pp.

Metzler, Marilyn, Melissa T. Merrick, Joanne Klevens, Katie A. Ports, Derek C. Ford.  (2017).  Adverse childhood experiences and life opportunities: Shifting the narrative.  Children and Youth Services Review, 72:  142-149.  Link:

Radwin, D., Wine, J., Siegel, P., and Bryan, M. (2013). 2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12): Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2011–12 (NCES 2013-165). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.  Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from


[1] (NCES Digest of Education Statistics, 2018 [See:]). 



Hi Maureen,

Wow, lots of good stuff here. I am a phd student as well focusing on how trauma affects learning. My program is Educational Technology and Learning Design so my research focus is on how we can create trauma informed online learning. 30% of college students in the US are taking at least one online class, and as far as I can determine, no one is researching how to bring trauma-informed care to this population. Would love to connect.



I taught online for nine years. As I became informed I did change my teaching. I taught criminology and victimology. The subject matter often prompted students to share in open forums or with me privately their previous trauma. I also worked to develop trauma informed practices to reach out to students who would β€œghost”. I’d be happy to share my experiences. Please don’t hesitate to email me at or call (765)977-5977.


I have a book coming out from Columbia Teachers College Press titled Trauma Doesn't Stop at the School Door (June 2020); it, together with the earlier book Breakaway Learners, address how to think about the impact of trauma on educational outcomes across the early childhood -- adulthood pieceline.  And, the book is at once theoretical and grounded in reality with real life solutions and strategies.  Reach out:

Archana Gupta posted:

Is there ANY place on the site that lists trauma therapists well versed with ACEs, family systems? I am looking for compassionate, effective experts in Denver, CO for services right away. Does any one have any info, suggestions?

Hi Archana,

YES!  I meet two of the clinicians from this practice in a trauma-informed sensory modulation training with Dr. Tina Champagne last November.  One of them was also named Emily. They are remarkable and trained in some of the more effective and cutting edge treatments for trauma.  They specialize in children and teens.  Check em out!


To add to the list, I am a former college president (former tenured faculty member) who writes, speaks and advises on trauma, trauma symptomology and how to create a trauma responsive institutions.  My two books may help, both from Teachers College Press β€”Breakaway  Learners (2017) and then forthcoming Trauma Doesn’t Stop at the School Door (June 2020).  There are several blog posts too.  Reach out if I can help β€” based in DC but travel, SKYPE, Zoom or FaceTime.