Dear EWU & TRIO Community and Students,
I am sure you remember our EWU McNair scholar Marixza Torres, a Frances B Huston Medallion recipient, who was accepted into the University of California, Irvin's Ph.D. program in Human Development in Context (HDiC), fully funded! She also was accorded an Honorable Mention in the 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program competition for her research proposal's intellectual merit and potential broader impacts. She is doing excellent at UCI beginning the first semester of her Ph.D. program and would like to share a few words on how EWU's TRIO McNair Program assisted in accomplishing her academic goals.
TRiO’s McNair has expanded my life opportunities and has given me the tools to enact change in my community. As a Mexican American and first-generation student, I began my academic journey feeling like I did not know enough about my community to make lasting change towards social justice. That quickly changed...When I found out about the McNair Scholars Program, I knew little about graduate school and felt as though my limited academic exposure did not compare to other scholars in my field of psychology.
During the McNair Program, Marixza worked on three research projects. First, she conducted research on Latinx families with autistic children, shedding light on the unique challenges that they face due to numerous barriers in health care services, including the limited language translation and limited culturally competent personnel. Guided by her mentor Dr. Christina Torres Garcia, she utilized three surveys including the Family Needs Survey, Caring for My Child Survey and the Bias and Cultural Competence Survey. This research assists in filling the gap in the literature regarding Latinx families with autistic children in the Pacific Northwest. During the academic year, Marixza worked with Dr. Theresa Martin analyzing the relationship between family communication in college and prosocial values exploring the influence of these on academic achievement. In 2019, through a Summer Research Opportunities Program at the University of Notre Dame, Marixza examined the relationship between adolescent adjustment, dimensions of parenting, and work orientation guided by Dr. Dawn M. Gondoli. Marixza described how the culmination of all these experiences transformed her life:
The program’s ability to empower marginalized students gave me the confidence to address my imposter syndrome and continue to build my skills to succeed. After developing research proposals and presenting my work to others, I saw how valuable my perspectives were to making significant contributions to the academic field in Latinx Psychology. With the support of TRiO’s McNair, I developed the expertise I needed to become a doctoral student at the University of California Irvine in the Department of Education and Human Development. This opportunity transformed my life and will allow me to address concerns impacting the Latinx community.
We are so proud of Marixza and all of our EWU McNair Scholars. Since Eastern’s TRIO McNair program was first funded in 1995, 39 EWU McNair Scholars have completed their PhD’s and over 117 have earned Master’s degrees. These amazing individuals are making history and valuable impacts on their communities including teaching future teachers, bringing to light hidden histories, improving health in rural areas, increasing equity and diversity in academia, strengthening mental health care for underserved communities, and supporting McNair programs at other institutions.
Faculty and staff, if you have students in your class who are interested to conduct research and attend graduate school, please send them to our website! Students, if you want to make a difference in your communities or learn more about the EWU McNair program, check out our website or check out this eligibility questionnaire!