Logan Beyer '17

Program II Profile: Child Development: A Systems Approach
Hometown: New Bern, NC

What is your PII about?
With my Program II, I aim to explore the phenomenon of child development. To condense my major into a question, I am essentially asking, "What causes children to grow into the adults they eventually become?" When selecting courses, I delineated this almost infinite topic into three main arms of investigation - biologic, individual, and systemic influences. Over my four years at Duke, I have had the opportunity to study everything from genetics to biopsychosocial theory, and from metabolic systems to health and education policy. The series of interactions among all these systems is endlessly complex. But their net sum is the reality of human life. And to me, nothing could be more fascinating - nor more pressing, as we aim to create a world that allows *all* children to maximize their potential.

Who are your PII mentors?
Robert Thompson, Jenny Crowley, Kimberly Carpenter

What doors have been opened to you thanks to PII?
Program II has - in almost every way - defined my Duke experience! The research I've conducted comically mirrors the structure of my major. I've worked in three labs, one focused on metabolic influences on development, the second exploring the role of sensory sensitivity in the development of anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (a lot of words meaning individual developmental trajectories!), and finally, one exploring the process of transition from childhood to adulthood for individuals with intellectual disabilities, particularly focusing on the systems they must navigate during this time. I've volunteered in public schools with kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school students; and during the summer after my freshman year, I started an Individualized Attention Program at a summer program in a Title I school district. I'm a regular at the Duke Lenox Baker Children's Hospital right down the road; while also maintaining a relationship with the Primeros Pasos clinic in Xela Guatemala, helping with data analysis for the past two years. And as president of the Duke Special Olympics College Club, the athletes I work with every day contextualize my studies, reminding me why building systems that help people with all different developmental trajectories thrive is so critical.

What inspired you to pursue Program II?
I chose Program II because the question that fascinated me never fit neatly into any major. I always felt more passionate about studying development than anything else - and PII gave me the opportunity to do just that.

What was your greatest challenge in designing your program?
Nothing was more challenging than narrowing down classes! I think my initial list was 200 courses long? Narrowing it down to the 17 I chose was exhausting, but also an incredibly exciting and empowering process.

How did Program II factor into your post-graduation plans?
My experiences with Program II played a major role in helping me to win the Truman Scholarship, a post-graduate scholarship that helps fund advance degrees for change agents who dream of a life in public service. That is me to a tee. For now, the plan is to go to medical school to study developmental pediatrics, while also gaining an advanced degree in education psychology. Long term, I aim to conduct research on the intersections of health, education, and community systems, with the end goal of influencing national child policy initiatives. Right after graduation, though, I'm headed to DC and then San Francisco - working on children's issues in parts of the country I haven't gotten to explore yet!