Elena Klaw

Elena Klaw

Professor, Psychology


What research questions currently preoccupy you?

I am currently most interested in best practices in serving military veterans in higher education and the effects of peer leadership experiences on student veterans.

What personal factors contributed to your research?

I come from a family of Holocaust survivors and thus have always been fascinated with understanding factors associated with resilience, the ability to overcome hazardous life circumstances and trauma.

What has been most challenging in your research?

At SJSU, it is consistently challenging to balance the multiple demands of teaching and service with a commitment to growing an innovative body of scholarship. As a mother of two, it seems there is never enough time in the day to get everything done.

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

I began working with veterans as a result of my decade long involvement in domestic violence research and prevention programming at SJSU. A colleague with whom I had served as a consultant through my role as a Director of the Center for Community Learning & Leadership invited me to serve as a co-PI on a grant related to understanding domestic violence risk for veterans. The qualitative and quantitative research we conducted led me to propose an academic course pertaining to veterans’ transition home to the civilian world. I currently offer the course through the Psychology Department and have developed a peer leadership program similar to the efforts I conducted in the relationship violence field. I also serve as co-advisor of the Veteran Student Organization and had the opportunity to chair the SJSU Veterans Advisory Committee.

A hidden (research) talent:

I think I am very good at empowering undergraduates to take ownership of research ideas and to focus on the direct application of findings.

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

1984 by George Orwell. The book reminds us to never abandon critical thinking, individual responsibility, and a sense of conscience even when all messages try to persuade us to abandon our own truth and personal responsibility.

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

I read the Sunday New York Times without fail.

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

Keep learning and find topics, approaches, and teams of people that energize you. Don’t be afraid to build on what you know to venture into new arenas. Make a positive difference in the world through your work.

RSCA Accomplishments

Panel member, National Public Radio, The Forum, Supporting Veterans on the Path from Soldier to Student, Wed, Nov 11, 2015 Podcast.
Project Director, Veterans Embracing Transition (VET) Project 2014–2015, Awarded $30,000.00 from Lockheed Martin Corporation to develop and recognize SJSU student veterans as peer leaders.