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Student Highlights

Ben Burke , Research Team
23 April 2020
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Military REACH Research Associate
Ben Burke is a PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University and has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Ben is one of the longest serving team members on the Military REACH team, and he primarily works on TRIP reports, research reports, and social media posts. A few of Ben’s most notable contributions are
Ben’s colleagues described him as kind and compassionate, humorous, a thoughtful scholar, an encouraging teacher and mentor, and a genuine nerd - always ready to discuss movies or video games. Ben adds incredible value to our team, and we are thankful for the work he does to make research practical and useful to our target audiences. Below Ben discusses his interest in research, his future plans, and video games!

1. Why are you pursuing a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies and what is your end goal/dream job?

I am pursuing a degree in HDFS because people are endlessly interesting and I believe that HDFS provides an excellent way to study individuals and families while accounting for important contexts (relationships, environments). My end goal is to work in a university as a teacher and researcher. Teaching is one of my great passions and research allows me the opportunity to continue learning and exploring fascinating topics that can be of help to others.

2. So, you like gaming. What is your favorite part of gaming culture and how does that coincide with your background as a family scholar? How do you bring the two together?

What I love most about gaming and gaming culture is a hard thing to narrow down, because there are myriad things I adore about both. I'll focus in on the parts that are related to my work as a scholar studying family and relationships. Gaming is a medium that brings people together, despite the popular narrative that gaming is for the socially stunted. Spending any amount of time in an online multiplayer game or a game streaming website demonstrates how communities are constantly formed and fostered around gaming. I've heard countless stories of friendships that were initiated and maintained through playing games or how parents used games as a way to connect with their children. Additionally, gaming is often used to raise money for charity. Last year, I got to witness gaming communities raise millions of dollars for St. Jude's Children’s Research Hospital, which was an incredibly beautiful experience. Ultimately, when we talk about gaming and gamers, we're talking about people, and this medium can be an incredible tool for beneficial relational connections.

3. What drew you to Military REACH?

I was drawn to Military REACH because of Dr. Lucier-Greer. Mallory is a fantastic person and scholar who is doing important research. I have learned a great deal about military families and I believe in the work we do because I believe the end goal of research should be to benefit others. REACH's goal is to put beneficial knowledge into the hands of families, helping professionals, and policy makers and that goal is inherently worthy of pursuit.

4. What has been your favorite project to be a part of while working with Military REACH?

My favorite project to work on with Military REACH was the research report on posttraumatic growth. I learned so much about the nature of trauma and the resilience and growth that humans can display in the context of stressful circumstances. It was a privilege to be a part of such an enlightening and encouraging project.
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