Melissa Callaghan

Alumna earns postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University

Melissa Callaghan at a Harvard studio recording
Photo by: Melissa Callaghan
Melissa Callaghan at a Harvard studio recording for parents to use with RER's PreK literacy apps

Melissa Callaghan graduated from CSUMB in 2013 with a degree in Psychology. Callaghan widely credits CSUMB for helping her get to where she is today. Before her junior year, she did not know a lot about graduate school until academic advisor, Chrissy Lofgren, suggested she look into the McNair Scholar program. From there, she got in touch with CSUMB’s Undergraduate Research and Opportunities Center (UROC) and that was when her entire academic trajectory changed. Callaghan recalls, “I met amazing faculty and staff, and was connected with students who were inquisitive, energized, and driven to do more than our coursework required. I soon began conducting research with my wonderful mentor, Dr. Jennifer Dyer-Seymour, and from then I was hooked on research.”

Some of Callaghan’s most meaningful memories are from working with the Service Learning department. She volunteered at Youth Alive, where she served children by finding ways to make them laugh and learn whenever possible. Even after completing the course, Callaghan returned to Youth Alive every week to see the children she built bonds with and continued to serve them. One of the most rewarding things she had the opportunity to do was help coordinate a Youth Alive field trip to CSUMB’s campus. Her team organized a time for the children to visit campus, learn about college, and hopefully see themselves one day attending college. Callaghan remembers, “The smiles on the children’s faces were truly priceless. Seeing their eyes light up over the educational possibilities that lay ahead of them was a significant reason I went into the field of Education for my graduate studies.”

Callaghan is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She works on the Reach Every Reader (RER) initiative, which is a collaboration between Harvard, MIT, and Florida State University aiming to create digital technologies that have scalable impact to assess and teach literacy skills to PreK-3rd graders. Callaghan explains, “A large portion of my work involves collaborating with groups, such as local media studios and MIT’s Education Arcade lab, to design apps that promote literacy learning through parent-child play and scaffold parents/caregivers in dialogic reading with their children. I get to write and record video resources of and for parents to learn about literacy development and how to guide their children’s learning. After all of the exciting design and development work takes place, I then get to assist with the research examining how effective our tools are.”

Read more about Melissa Callaghan in Diverse Education.