Sociology Student and CDRA Undergraduate RA Speaks at Oklahoma State UniversityImage of

Sociology Student and CDRA Undergraduate RA Speaks at Oklahoma State University

(L-R: Mike Gavin, Tammy Henderson, and Samantha LaFever)


In March of 2013, senior Sociology student and CDRA undergraduate research assistant, Samantha LaFever, travelled to Oklahoma State University for the 2013 Linking Gerontology and Geriatrics Conference. Samantha, along with Mike Gavin, the Emergency Manager for the City of Fort Collins, co-presented as part of a special plenary session entitled “Hazards and Disasters: Where are Children, Grandparents, and Caregivers?”


The session highlighted research Samantha has been working on regarding “grandfamilies” (non-nuclear families where children are being raised by one or both grandparents) within Larimer County. Although an often overlooked population, there are more and more elderly who are raising a generation of children both in Larimer County and across the United States. Samantha has been conducting research to understand how this particular family structure, and related family dynamics, shape risk perception and disaster preparedness activities. This is an important area of focus not just because of their growing numbers, but also because the elderly and children represent two of the most vulnerable populations in disaster.


Samantha, who is also a dual intern with Poudre School District and the City of Fort Collins Office of Emergency Management, thoroughly enjoyed the experience at the conference. She said that she “could not believe the opportunity came up to present in front of such a large audience while still an undergrad!” She also noted the huge role her network played and how thankful she was to have such supportive mentors as Dr. Lori Peek and Mike Gavin.


While at the conference, Samantha met many community leaders and academic researchers, including Dr. Tammy Henderson from Oklahoma State University, who was a co-organizer of the conference. Samantha noted that she “learned a great deal and connected with a variety of professionals interested in the work being done on grandfamilies by participating in such an exciting event.”


Samantha is an exemplar of all that we hope to foster with our undergraduate research experiences at CDRA: she has worked on many different projects through the Center and in the Fort Collins community. We are so proud of Samantha, and wish her all the best with what will surely continue to be a bright future!