After an early career as a French teacher, and later as an analyst for the department of defense, I decided to return to my passion for child and youth development. I led students on service-learning semesters, where I counseled and taught about self-regulation and mindfulness. I saw so many transformations in the students that I became fascinated by the mind, and how our beliefs and behaviors are learned early in life. I wanted to know if there was a way to investigate how the brain absorbs the emotions and reactions of others, and whether we are all capable of 'updating our beliefs and behaviors' if they no longer serve us in adaptive ways. I chose NYU in order to dive into neuroscience, particularly the concept of neuroplasticity, child development, and the study of fear and emotions.
There, I worked with social neuroscientist, Lasana Harris, on studies on stereotype content, disgust, moral decision-making and neuroeconomics. My thesis was on Empathy and Family Emotional Climate; I won third place at the annual Graduate Research Conference in 2010.
I was also mentored by Dr. Zoran Josipovic, whose work on mindfulness and meditation inspired me to spend several months at various monasteries and learn from teachers from India and Vietnam. During that time, I also worked with children in various communities as a teaching assistant.
During my graduate studies and for the past two decades, I have been surrounded by children: as a nanny, reading therapist, research assistant for the NYU Child Study Center under the direction of Demy Kamboukos, and psychoeducational therapist for the Children's Education and Rehabilitation Center. These experiences have all had a significant impact on my desire to study developmental science and how the mental, physiological and emotional state of caregivers, teachers, parents and community members affect children's behavior and brain development.
Through my personal experiences and time at these research institutes, I have seen over and over again how much our early experiences affect our life trajectory. And I've made it my mission to help as many people as I can have a deeper understanding of this so that they can:
- become more aware of their own self-defeating beliefs and behaviors that they have learned, especially in childhood
- become more aware of the fact that most people we encounter are acting and reacting from many subconscious triggers and automated behaviors
- learn how to contribute to their communities, organizations and relationships in ways that lead to the optimization of the mind-brain-body system.
See one of my latest talks at the Symposium on Neuroscience and Physiological Perspectives on Design Thinking and Creativity hosted by Stanford University and the Hasso Plattner Institute for Design in Berlin. The theme was 'Embodied Creativity and Cognition'.
CURRENT AND PAST CLIENTS
Northwestern University, School of Education and Social Policy
Northeastern University, Chicago
Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking, Berlin
City Colleges of Chicago
Illinois State University, Department of Education
University of California San Diego, School of Medicine
Tutoring Chicago (formerly Cabrini Green Tutoring)
EHOVE Career Training, Ohio
Blue Valley School District, Missouri
Horizon Science Academy, Chicago
Christopher House Chicago
Oak Park String Academy
Suzuki Music Association
Empowerment through Education and Exposure, Chicago
Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth, Canada
Alberta Children's Hospital, Canada
Independence School District, Missouri
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"[...] fabulous, helpful, thought provoking, growth oriented training [...] I want to experience it again. I benefitted more from this experience than I have from whole classes on brain development, entire textbooks on brain research and multiday educational conferences. I know I am a better teacher for this morning’s experience. Heartfelt thanks." - Michele, Kansas City MO
"Life changing... Immediate life application." - Evelyn McGhee, Chicago IL
"I learned how to infuse lessons with conversations about emotion, vulnerability and failure. Stefanie knows what she is talking about – and backed it all up with evidence." – Jenna De Bruin, Chicago IL