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Mastrangelo, Top Thesis Winner, Studied Child Abuse Prevention

May 10, 2019

By Sydney Colopy

Madison Mastrangelo PPS’19 is receiving the Sanford School of Public Policy award for Best Honors Thesis for her work on No Hit Zones, a policy to prevent corporal punishment. Mastrangelo explains how she became interested in the topic and what this research has meant to her.

"I first became passionate about child abuse prevention through my DukeEngage New Orleans internship, when I worked at the New Orleans Children's Advocacy Center, a child abuse treatment and prevention center.

“I was fully immersed in child protection work, from designing and publishing a book to de-mystify the court process for child abuse survivors to drafting national policies for victim advocates to reduce the incidence of physical abuse,” Mastrangelo said.

She said she interacted with the children impacted by the Center's work every day.

“Whether I was coloring with patients before their forensic medical exams or running to answer the door and welcome families, I saw how much this work matters,” she said.

The public policy honors project is a year-long commitment for students, beginning in the spring of their junior year. Students conduct original research on a policy problem, working closely with an advisor.

Mastrangelo’s advisors were Jennifer Lansford, research professor of public policy, and Jeffrey Moe, professor of the practice of global health. Her thesis is “A Policy Analysis of No-Hit Zones: What Are Barriers to No-Hit Zone Implementation?”  

"My honors thesis represents a culmination of my academic career both at Duke and at Sanford. It also highlights what I love most about Duke: the relationships with incredible professors who go above and beyond to support students,” she said.

“I feel so grateful for the mentorship from my thesis advisors, Professors Lansford and Moe, and my thesis class professors, Professors Hollowell and Rogerson. They believed in me even when I didn't and encouraged me to present at a national conference and publish a version of my thesis in an academic journal," she said.

The Advisor, a journal of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, published a version of Mastrangelo’s thesis. Two mentors from her internship as well as another collaborator whom she met through conducting interviews for her thesis, were co-authors.

With a dual major in public policy and global health, Mastrangelo is graduating with highest distinction in public policy and with distinction in global health, the highest honor given in that department.

After graduation, Mastrangelo will work as a consulting analyst at Accenture Federal Services in Washington, D.C.