You might recognize Ereisa Morales from McNair’s website. You also might recognize her from posters around campus. She is holding a book about drug use, and a tape recorder, ready to document, survey, and research. What is she researching?
Morales is a McNair Scholar. She is also a part of a sorority on campus, and participates in numerous volunteer activities such as Second Harvest. She is a TA for Dr. Aguilar, who happens to be her mentor. Dr. Aguilar teaches race and culture studies, was the academic advisor for McNair last year (2017-2018), and created Transformation Tuesday, where underrepresented and marginalized voices can be expressed and heard at The Mason Jar every third Tuesday. A double major in sociology and criminal justice, Morales knows the definition of hard work and stamina. If it sounds like she does a lot, it’s because she does.
Yet, in all of the tasks, Morales comes off energetic and ready to tackle the next paper, study or discussion. The bulk of her time now is focusing on graduate school applications. That means long hours pouring over requirements, sending GRE test scores, crafting a better CV, and revising again and again her written work. The process is long, but she feels confident in her chances of getting into a prestigious university because of how important her research is, for both academia and her community in Yakima.
Morales’s research is about drug addiction within Latinx families and adolescents. In order to understand the why in terms of drug addiction, she had to review literature. Then she sought approval of an IRB to conduct an interview of a Latina who grew up using drugs. The interview consisted of many leading questions to allow the Latina to open up about why, how, and when addiction occurred. One such question starts off as, “How is it that you feel now if you’re still using?” These answers were then transcribed and used to formulate a thematic analysis. Morales is working on finishing up this manuscript so that she can send it to a journal for publication.
This research is important in understanding why drug addiction happens to adolescents in Latinx communities. In doing so, Morales has the opportunity to explore, find answers, and provide valuable information to better those communities across the state and country. With the help of McNair Scholar Program, the Sociology Department, and her mentor, Dr. Aguilar, her research has significant amount of support. In the near future, Morales hopes to be a professor in sociology and mentor students who have come from underrepresented background.