Graduate student goes above and beyond to earn doctoral degree in applied developmental science

Jessy Jiao at the Colorado State University 5k homecoming event

Jessy Jiao at the Colorado State University 5k homecoming event.

Yuqin (Jessy) Jiao will soon complete her Ph.D. in applied development science from Colorado State University. The journey to her doctoral degree has been filled with ups and down, and now, she is recognized as an outstanding graduate student for the College of Health and Human Sciences due to her unwavering perseverance to obtaining her doctorate.

Growing personally and professionally through research

“I like the positive, supportive, and empathetic approach that our department holds – we are here together, and you are not alone,” said Jiao. “This approach really promoted my own growth in both academic work and life in general.”

In addition to working on her doctoral degree, Jiao holds a master’s degree in environmental health from The Ohio State University as well as two bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and psychology from Ohio University.

After finishing her studies in Ohio, Jiao moved to Colorado to follow her interest in learning human development with a health approach, which the CSU Department of Human Development and Family Studies offers their students.

At CSU, Jiao dove into research, finding a true passion for it in her Applied Developmental Science doctoral program.

“The program got me involved in all steps of research work,” said Jiao. “It helped me gain more experiences and confidence in doing more independent work.”

In the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Jiao is part of the Cognition and Health Analytics Lab with research focused on prevention science, specifically with grandparents who are raising grandchildren and how to promote their successful aging experience.

“Jessy has worked diligently for me and others,” said Stephen Aichele, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the director of the Cognition and Health Analytics Lab. “Jessy developed her applied statistical competencies to a high level and contributed to an important publication in one of the Lancet family of journals.”

The Lancet is a world-leading international general medical journal founded in 1823.

After she graduates in May, Jiao plans to continue working in the prevention research area and utilize the training she has received through the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in her future successes.

“The academic experiences here are beyond what I could ask for,” said Jiao. “I have enjoyed and appreciated working with all the professors, mentors, and advisors who helped me through this journey.”

A journey overcoming pandemic difficulties and a language barrier

During her time at Colorado State University, Jiao has overcome barriers to continue moving toward her degree. One of those barriers came with the COVID-19 pandemic when Jiao found herself needing to care for loved ones.

“It was very hard to care for family members during the pandemic, especially the ones who were suffering from mental health issues due to all the medical appointment cancellations,” said Jiao. “This made it hard to get help, but I learned to focus on the positives and be an optimist.”

Jiao became a rock for those around her while also overcoming the hurdle of having English as a second language The language barrier became difficult when it came time for Jiao to develop her doctoral thesis proposal. Tapping into her resources at CSU, Jiao committed valuable time to work with language tutoring services to ensure her success.

“One of the accomplishments I am most proud of during my time at CSU is gaining the ability to solve difficult problems independently.”

While this statement is true of her research, it is also be true of Jiao’s ability to navigate the challenges she has faced while earning her doctorate.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.