Ph.D. in Education, 2013
School of Education
June 1, 2008
Academic and Professional Experiences Nurtured Nayssan Safavian’s Interest in Culture and Psycho-social Development
Prior to attending UC Irvine, Nayssan Safavian attended UCLA as an undergraduate where she founded the Undergraduate Psychology Society and served as president. Additionally, for two years she worked with both the School Mental Health Project and the Daily Life Study Project as a research assistant. Particularly drawn to the area of culture and psycho-social development, she developed a senior undergraduate research thesis that investigated the relationships between adolescent and parental ethnic identity, identity mismatch, and family patterns of communication.
Nayssan graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in 2004. After graduation, she accepted a summer position as a resident counselor for the American Ballet Theater Orange County Summer Intensive Program. From there, she spent three years working professionally prior to returning to an academic career.
The invaluable experiences garnered from working with the School Mental Health Project, UCLA Alumni Association, and the American Ballet Theater solidified Nayssan’s aspirations for pursuing doctoral study in education. In Fall 2007, she enrolled in the doctoral program at UC Irvine, choosing the specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development. For Nayssan, the UC Irvine program provided access to faculty, resources, and the kind of collaborative experience that suited both her personal aspirations and her professional goals.
Nayssan’s current research interest lies in understanding the various facets of motivational behavior. She is interested in why people do what they do, and the questions that people often ask themselves, such as “Can I do it, and is it worth it?” Of particular interest to Nayssan is the study of achievement motivation. Related research interests include adolescent socio-emotional development, personality and identity factors, and adolescent mental health in schools. Currently, as part of her first year research, she is looking at how early adolescent ethnic identity development might inform student self-efficacy beliefs. She explains, “Adolescent psychosocial adjustment and achievement have each been linked separately with measures of self-efficacy and ethnic identity. However, there is very little empirical research investigating the associations between identity theories and achievement outcomes.”
Nayssan also maintains her interest in the performing arts, particularly dance, and is continuing to work with the American Ballet Theater. She is excited about the UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology, knowing that the Center will play an instrumental role in her exploration and further development of her research interests with respect to motivation, learning, and the arts.
Leadership has played a significant role in the Nayssan’s academic and professional career. This spring, Nayssan served as co-chair of the UC Irvine Department of Education’s first Ph.D. Cohort Recruitment Weekend. Her additional commitments include serving as the incoming president to the UCLA Alumni Chapter of Orange County, chairing an undergraduate scholarship committee, and acting as an undergraduate mentor to student scholars. Nayssan believes that the road to leadership and independence is paved with a solid education; thus, she looks forward to the responsibility of educating and contributing her knowledge and encouraging and inspiring future generations of leaders.