Meet new faculty member Kristen Seay

Kristen D. Seay, assistant professor, College of Social Work

Degrees: Bachelor of Social Work, University of Georgia; Master of Social Work, Florida State University; Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis

Where are you from originally? Snellville, Ga., whose actual town motto states: "Where everybody is somebody."

What's your area of study or research? I research parental substance abuse, the prevention of child abuse and neglect and improving the well-being of families.

Why did you choose Carolina? I felt a real connection to the College of Social Work during my campus visit. I grew up in the South and appreciate that the college is committed to improving the lives of families in this state. The faculty are intelligent, have strong research and teaching skills and care about their students. Dean Scheyett provides great leadership for the college. I am really excited to be here.

What are you most looking forward to about being at the university, in Columbia or in South Carolina? The weather in winter. The proximity to the beach in summer. I have lived in St. Louis for the past five years with cold winters and no beach.

What made you decide to go into academia? After obtaining my MSW, I worked for child protective services, investigating reports of child abuse in Georgia and Alabama. I was out in the community working with families, visiting their homes and talking with them about their lives. We worked very hard but were often unable to address complex problems related to substance abuse, poverty and other concerns. I realized that I wanted to become a researcher and increase knowledge about how to prevent child maltreatment and intervene with families.

What was the topic of your dissertation? Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II, my dissertation used path analysis to examine the direct, mediated and moderated pathways from caregiver problematic substance use to children experiencing harm in a sample of families investigated for child maltreatment.

What's a talent you have or something that you've done that people might find surprising? I had two children while I was in graduate school, which kept me really busy. My sons are now 14 months and 4 years old. Before kids, I had a lot of hobbies — I ran a marathon and taught myself to knit. Now I spend my free time playing with my children and doing things they enjoy.

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