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Catherine Ma, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. is the first Chinese full professor of psychology at Kingsborough Community College and the 2022 recipient of the Society of the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) Two-Year College Teaching and Mentoring Excellence Award. As she continued to pursue her love of psychology, she earned her master’s degree in psychology from Hunter College while working as the assistant undergraduate psychology advisor. Her thesis advisor planted the seeds of further graduate study, and she earned a second master’s degree in philosophy and her doctoral degree in social-personality psychology at the Graduate Center of CUNY. She began her teaching career after her writing fellowship at the College of Staten Island and honed her teaching skills as an adjunct and later a substitute lecturer in their psychology department. As an immigrant and first-generation college graduate, she credits her success to her experiences at many CUNY institutions. Dr. Ma hopes to continue inspiring the students in her psychology classes as her CUNY professors once did for her.
PSY 1100: Introduction to Psychology
PSY 3200: Human Growth & Development
PSY 3000: Child and Adolescent Development
PSY 2800: Contemporary Views in Psychology
PSY 4100: The Psychology of Immigration
BEH 7000: Introduction to Research
BEH 7100: Conducting Research Honors Enrichment Component (HEC) Courses
Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York
Ph.D. in Social-Personality Psychology, Dissertation: Eat at Mom’s: Reclaiming and Rebuilding the Breastfeeding Paradigm with Women’s Voices
Master of Philosophy
Certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
Hunter College, City University of New York, Master of Arts in Psychology
State University of New York at Albany, Bachelor of Arts, major in Psychology
Dr. Ma has extensive experience teaching a wide variety of introductory and advanced psychology courses, including Introduction to Psychology, Human Growth & Development, Child and Adolescent Development, Statistics in Psychology, Research Methods, Health Psychology, Contemporary Views of Psychology, and The Psychology of Immigration. Her latest course, The Psychology of Immigration (PSY 4100), critically examines the stresses unique to immigrants living in the United States. In this course, we explore what it means to be American, residential schools, the Model Minority, the plight of migrant workers, intergenerational trauma, the relationship of food and immigration, citizenship, negotiating a sense of belonging, xenophobia, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Selected Publications and/or Other Resources
Wu Clark, A., Dinh, T.M., Huang, K., Kim, J., Ma, C., Milne, L., & Siu, K. Feminist Tellings 2: Sustainable Pathways in Academia. Association for Asian American Studies, 6 April 2023, Long Beach, CA. Presentation.
Yamamura, M., Ahmed, T., Verdino, J., & Ma, C. The Impact of Connecting and Mentoring Marginalized Faculty in Academia. The Illusion of Inclusion: Collaborative Solutions for Performative Diversity, 30 March 2023, New York, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. (2022). Chinese Mothers Creating a Community of Maternal Support. In D. Kuwabong, D. Smith Silva, & E. Diaz’s Mothering, Community, and Friendship. Demeter Press.
Ma, C. (2021). Incorporating Antiracist Education Using Aspects of Asian American Studies to Teach about Race and Discrimination. In L. Parson & C. Ozaki (Eds.) Teaching and Learning for Social Justice and Equity in Education. Palgrave Macmillan.
Ma, C. (2021). And Who Are You? One Chinese Mother’s Journey from Advocating for Her Children to Maternal Empowerment. In R. Bannerjee & K. Mukhida (Eds.) Band-Aids to Scalpels: Motherhood Experiences in/of Medicine. Demeter Press.
Ma, C. How It Started vs. How It’s Going’ - Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Immigrant and First-Generation College Student. Women’s History Month, 24 March 2021, Kingsborough Community College, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. (2020). Reflections of a Chinese Academic Mom Struggling to Survive a Pandemic. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, double issue, Vol. 11, No. 2 / Vol. 12, No. 1. 125-137.
Ma, C. & Thompson, K. V. (2020). Sister, Sister, Never Knew How Much I Missed Ya! In J. Sablan & J. Van Galen (Eds.) Amplified Voices, Intersecting Identities: First-Generation PhDs Navigating Institutional Power in Early Academic Careers (pp.79-88). Brill | Sense publishers.
Ma, C. (2020). Breast Work: My Breasts Deserve a Trip to Hawaii for All the Work They’ve Done Nursing. In P. Drew and R. Edwards (Eds.), Breasts Across Motherhood: Lived Experiences and Critical Examinations (pp.179-192). Demeter Press.
Ma, C., & Thompson, K. Conversations with First Generation Ph.D. Faculty Discussing How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome. Proud to be First Conversations, 10 November 2020, Brooklyn, NY, Panel discussant & presentation.
Ma, C., Nanin, J., & Nassar, H. How to Do This Work. Panel Discussion on Equity & Inclusion in Practice. Historically Underrepresented Faculty & Staff Resource Center, 15 October 2020, Panel discussant & presentation.
Thompson, K., VanOra, J., Verdino, J., & Ma, C. Exploring Race, Equity, Identity, and Academic Outcomes in an Urban Community College Setting: Challenges and Possibilities. American Psychological Association Convention, 6-9 August 2020, Washington, DC, Presentation.
Ma, C. Teaching for Social Justice and Equity: Incorporating Aspects of Asian American Studies as Tools for Teaching about Race and Discrimination in a Community College Setting. 18th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education, 4-7 January 2020, Oahu, HI, Presentation.
Ma, C. (2020). Sang Duc Ho. In N. Khanna (ed) Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism. New York, NY: NYU Press.
Ma, C, Khuu, E., & Cohen, D. The Value of Teaching and Learning about the Psychology of Immigration. Kingsborough Women’s Resource Center’s Women’s History Month, 18 March 2019, Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Better, A., Karp, A., Ma, C., & Posey, K. Finding Our Voice: The Importance of Diversity in Academic Spaces. Diversity Symposium, 25 October 2018. Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. Panel discussant & presentation.
Ma, C. & Holmes, J. Why Should Our Students Care About the Psychology of Immigration? Encounters Speaker Series, Student Union & Intercultural Center, 26 November 2018, Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. (2018). I’m MY Breastfeeding Expert: How First Time Mothers Reclaimed Their Power through Breastfeeding. In A. Einion and J. Rinaldi (Eds.), Bearing the Weight of the World: Exploring Maternal Embodiment (pp.203-219). Demeter Press.
Ma, C. (2018). Quit Calling My Kid, Yao Ming: Reflections of Race and Class From a Chinese Basketball Mom. In J. Battaglia, R. Bromwich, & P. Redela (Eds.), Mothering, Mothers, and Sport: Experiences, Representations, and Resistances (pp.67-86). Demeter Press.
Ma, C. (2017). The Varying Degrees of Ferocity in Performing Mothering as a Chinese American Mother. The Journal of Mother Studies, 2, 1-13.
Ma, C. & Byas, T. The Impact of Teaching Immigration Classes in a Large Public University Post Election. Sustaining Diverse and Inclusive Communities, 14 November 2017. Queens College, Queens, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C., Moore, A., Anderson, D., Naveed, S., & Abdelrahman, K. The Impact of Participating in a Psychology of Immigration Class Post Election. Sustaining Diverse and Inclusive Communities Conference, 31 October 2017. Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. The Impact of Participating in a Psychology of Immigration Class Post Election. Diversity Symposium and Immigration Day, 31 October 2017. Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Exploring Maternal Transformations Through Breastfeeding: Using Nursing Women's Narratives to Resist Biomedical Discourses in Breastfeeding. Highlighting the Narrative: Giving Voices to Research, 1 April 2017, Columbia University, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Integrating Asian American Studies into The Community College Classroom. 2017 CUNY Faculty Diversity & Inclusion Conference, 31 March 2017, The Graduate School, City University of New York, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. What Do Asian American Studies Have to Do with Teaching Psychology Courses? Reflections of a Community College Psychology Professor Post 2016 Election. Building Asian American Studies in Polycultural New York City Symposium, 10 March 2017, Borough of Manhattan Community College, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. A Critical Examination of Breastfeeding Education: A Qualitative Analysis of How First Time Mothers Learn About Breastfeeding. Annual Academic Museum of Motherhood Conference, 7 May 2016, Manhattan College, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. What do Asian American Studies have to do with Teaching Psychology Courses? Reflections of a Community College Psychology Professor. Diversity Symposium, Kingsborough Community College, 3 November 2016, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation
Ma, C. Empowering Parents Workshop, The Kingsborough Women's Center, Kingsborough Community College; 18 October 2016, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation
Ma, C. Dodging Booby Traps: How the Best is Best Ideology Undermines Maternal Breastfeeding Efforts. Eastern Sociological Society, 19 March 2016, Boston, MA. Presentation.
Ma, C. Game Changers Within Breastfeeding: How Listening to One's Inner Voice Can Help First Time Mothers with Breastfeeding. Women's History Month, Kingsborough Community College, 29 March 2016, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation
Ma, C. A Critical Examination of Breastfeeding Education: A Qualitative Analysis of How First Time Mothers Learn About Breastfeeding. Museum of Motherhood Conference, 7 May 2016, Manhattan College, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Do You Deserve to Be Happy? Exploring the Relationship Between Happiness & Gratitude. What is Happiness? Viewpoints from Liberal Arts, Kingsborough Community College; 16 May 2016, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Booby Traps: How the Breast is Best Ideology Can Sabotage Breastfeeding Success. Women's History Month, Kingsborough Community College, 16 March 2015, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. & Bartolomeo-Maida, M. Empowering Parents Workshop. Women's History Month, Kingsborough Community College; 16 March 2015, Brooklyn, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Booby Traps: How Breastfeeding Promotional Campaigns Undermine Maternal Breastfeeding Efforts. Society for Public Health Education's (SOPHE) 65th Annual Meeting, Discovery 2014: New Health Education Strategies, Connections & Ideas, 19-21 March 2014, Baltimore, MD. Panel discussant & presentation.
Ma, C. (2013). Eat at Mom's: Critiquing and Rebuilding the Breastfeeding Paradigm (doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International, 73, (9-B) (E). (Order number: AAI3508705).
Ma, C. Booby Traps: How Breastfeeding Promotional Campaigns Undermine Maternal Breastfeeding Efforts. Interventions: Women's Studies on the Edge, (Il)legible Identities; 16 October 2013, College Park, MD. Panel discussant & presentation.
Ma, C. Booby Traps: How the "Breast is Best" Educational Campaigns Can Undermine Improvement in Breastfeeding. 41st Annual Hunter Psychology Convention; 21 April 2013, New York, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Eat at Mom's: Reclaiming and Rebuilding the Breastfeeding Paradigm with Women's Voices. DATABLITZ!, Second Annual All-Psychology Research Day, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 21 March 2011, New York, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. Rebuilding the Paradigm: Tracking First Time Mothers' Experiences of Breastfeeding. Advanced Student Presentations, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 1 April 2011, New York, NY. Presentation.
Ma, C. (2009). If the Breast is Best, why are Breastfeeding Rates so Low? An In-depth Look at Breastfeeding from Policy Makers to the Bottom Dollar. In J. Nathanson and L. Tuley (Eds.) Mother Knows Best: Talking Back to the “Experts” (pp. 91-102). Association for Research on Mothering (ARM)/Demeter Press.
Dr. Ma's research expertise focuses on health promotion, breastfeeding education, lived experiences of breastfeeding mothers, individual belief systems and how they affect breastfeeding outcomes, the lived experiences of Asian American immigrants, how to incorporate Asian American studies into teaching, implications of race and class in travel basketball, maternal transformations through breastfeeding, and ways to integrate antiracism pedagogy into the classroom. Having experienced every single problem related to nursing her three children, she was inspired to use her research expertise to help women nurse their babies in an empowering manner and make informed decisions regarding infant feeding. Her dissertation, “Eat at Mom's: Reclaiming and Rebuilding the Breastfeeding Paradigm with Women's Voices,” was a mixed methods study that analyzed the breastfeeding experiences of first-time mothers across three data waves (prenatal, early, and late postpartum). Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, she captured the ironies of breastfeeding promotional strategies that may unknowingly prevent women from breastfeeding success. She hopes to create a new model of breastfeeding education that focuses on the mother-infant dyad instead of relying on outside experts. Dr. Ma is also a reviewer for the academic journals, Maternal & Child Nutrition and Journal of Human Lactation.
Dr. Ma has analyzed student written assignments examining what they learned while taking her Psychology of Immigration course. She presented these findings at a variety of outlets focusing on diversity and cultural competence. Based on this research, she published her chapter, “Incorporating Antiracist Education Using Aspects of Asian American Studies to Teach about Race and Discrimination” in their academic series, Teaching and Learning for Social Justice and Equity in Education.
Her current research project examines the impact of antiracism pedagogy among education majors entering the Department of Education (DOE) in NYC. A key element of antiracism education is to foster open dialogue, but there is no structured program to help our future DOE teachers begin to have these discussions. To combat this, Dr. Ma has introduced a series of antiracism readings to education majors enrolled in her Child and Adolescent Development classes. She analyzes what they learned from those readings and how these future DOE teachers plan to apply antiracism in their classrooms. With the turmoil that has characterized 2016 with a government administration that has actively engaged in dismantling work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is critical to prepare our future teachers to be able to foster an open dialogue on race, racism, discrimination, as well as apply antiracism within their classrooms.
Dr. Ma is also working on her research examining the lived experiences of Asian American immigrants, which was inspired by her own immigrant experiences and the sacrifices made by her grandparents, Yuet Chun & Tai Yee Ma. She is working on an auto-ethnography that documents her experiences as a Chinese immigrant navigating her way in America. To honor her grandparents, she created the Yuet Chun & Tai Yee Ma Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund to award a deserving Kingsborough Community College student every year in perpetuity.
Awards Recognition, Distinctions and Grants
2022 Two-Year College Teaching and Mentoring Excellence Award from The Society of the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI)
2022 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2022-2023 Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Works Award
2020-2021 Faculty Achievements Recognition
Association for College and University Educators (ACUE) microcredential in Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Online Learning Environment
CUNY Online Teaching Essentials (OTE) certification
2019-20 Kingsborough Faculty Scholarship Support Grant
2019 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2018 Designing Co-Curricular Experiences for Civic Engagement Credit Proposal, "Dismantling Xenophobia as a Means to Foster Social Responsibility & Student Engagement."
2018 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2017 Faculty Achievements Recognition Received a PSC-CUNY Research Award Program: Traditional A Award during the spring of 2017 for my research entitled, Exploring the Lived Experiences of Immigrant Students in a Community College Setting Post 2016 Election
Fellow, 2016 The National Endowment Fund Summer Institute for Building Asian American Studies in Community College Classrooms at The Center for Ethnic Studies at The Borough of Manhattan Community College
Fellow, 2016 Faculty Fellowship Publication Program, CUNY Central
2016 Kingsborough Community College Women's Center Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Dedication & Lasting Contribution
2016 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2015 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2014 Faculty Achievements Recognition
2013 Faculty Achievements Recognition
Institutional Affiliations / Professional Societies
Board member of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute of CUNY
Member of the Asian-American/Asian Studies Advisory Board for the Graduate Center, CUNY
American Psychological Association, International Lactation Consultant Association
Society for Public Health Education
Society of the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Association for Asian American Studies
When she is not teaching students or reading the Journal of Human Lactation, she enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family & friends, enjoying the beach, and spending time with her adorable & spoiled pug, Boba.