Auburn graduate student recognized by professional organization for family studies

AUBURN – The National Council on Family Relations has selected Cassandra Kirkland, a graduate student in Human Development and Family Studies in Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences, to receive the 2011 Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

NCFR, the premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families, issues the award annually to one graduate student member who has demonstrated excellence as a student with high potential for contribution to the discipline of family studies.

The organization has more than 3,400 members, representing all 50 states and 35 countries, including 1,400 student members. Four students were nominated for this year’s award.

Margaret Keiley, a professor of marriage and family therapy and Kirkland’s major professor, said she was not surprised to learn her student earned the award above any other.

“Cassandra’s master’s thesis, examining the effects that lack of resources for inner-city African-American families has on their future aspirations, was a work of art,” Keiley said.

She adds that Kirkland’s dissertation focuses on other important, yet understudied issues, in the African-American community, including fatherhood.

“I hope to provide a comprehensive understanding of the intergenerational transmission of fathering practices among African-American men,” said Kirkland. “The central purpose of my dissertation is to utilize the findings to inform my future service-oriented work with low-resource, expectant fathers. Overall, I hope my current and future work will be used to inform social policy and serve the greater community through family-based programs.”

As the NCRF award recipient, Kirkland receives $1,000, a complimentary NCFR Annual Conference registration, and a plaque, which will be presented at the conference this November in Orlando, Fla.

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

Contact: Harriet Giles, (334) 844-3241 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (