Published on April 25, 2024 at 11:25 a.m. by Alison Ingle  
caroline bennett1

On Friday, April 19, Samford University hosted its 3rd annual Student Research Colloquia in the Davis Library. More than 90 students and student groups prepared poster presentations in 21 categories, ranging from analytics to exercise science to social work.

Caroline Bennett, Master of Social Work candidate in the School of Public Health, presented research on "Overcoming Vicarious Trauma: Resources Utilized by Law Enforcement Officers,” receiving top honors in the graduate category.
Bennett's research underscores the detrimental impact of secondary trauma on law enforcement officers' health and personal relationships. Her study investigated the daily stressors officers encounter in their profession, how they manage stress and access to mental health resources. The findings expose a disparity in access to coping support, with the primary issue being the scarcity of time and resources due to their demanding profession.

"My father was killed in the line of duty when I was very young, and the law enforcement community was very supportive of my family. I knew from my own life exposure that there was a stigma with officers addressing their mental health or utilizing services, especially seeing as how death by suicide rates are surpassing the rates of death by accidents or felonious acts," said Bennett.

Her research provides clinicians with information to identify gaps in support services, advocate for policy reforms, and develop culturally sensitive practices tailored to the needs of this population. "Pursuing this topic is a way of giving back and staying connected to a community that has served me so much. I know that if we can address the barriers to mental health in law enforcement, we are setting our officers to perform at the best versions of themselves."


Bennett enjoyed how the Student Research Colloquia connected her with faculty and disciplines she does not interact with on a daily basis. "It was a privilege to be able to see the wide breadth of research being conducted on Samford's campus," said Bennett.

Linnea Minnema, director of grants and sponsored programs, said students benefit from collaborating with faculty and presenting to their peers. "Students really have an amazing experience. We realized this was a need for them. They're engaged in research with faculty, and we wanted to celebrate that," said Minnema.

The Research Advisory Collaborative leads this event in partnership with the Office of Research at Samford. The colloquia, open to undergraduate and graduate students from all 10 academic schools, allows students to gain practice presenting mixed disciplines to non-specialists.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.