Congratulations to EWU McNair Alumna Marixza Torres! Marixza has been awarded a highly competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF). The NSF GRF program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of significant financial support. Each year EWU McNair educates students on various scholarship and research opportunities and how to apply for them, including the NSF GRF. While it is rare that an undergraduate will receive one of these fellowships, it prepares our students for future applications, and they are provided feedback from NSF on how to strengthen the application submitted. Last year, Marixza 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.
Marixza graduated from Eastern Washington University with a degree in Applied Developmental Psychology and a minor in Chicano studies. She completed two research internships as a McNair Scholar. For her 2018 EWU McNair Summer Research Internship, guided by her mentor Dr. Christina Torres Garcia, Marixza conducted research on the cultural obstacles faced by families of Latinx young adults with autism. In 2019, she was awarded and completed the Summer Research Opportunities Program at the University of Notre Dame under the mentorship of Dr. Dawn M. Gondoli. Through this internship, she examined the relationship between adolescent adjustment, dimensions of parenting, and work orientation. Marixza presented on her research at several conferences. In addition, during the 2019-20 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. For her strong academic record and demonstration of outstanding leadership qualities at Eastern and in the community the College of Social Sciences awarded Marixza a Frances B Huston Medallion in 2020.
Last year, Marixza was accepted by the Master's of Social Work program at the University of Texas, Austin, the PhD program in Human Development and Family Services at the University of Missouri, and the Psychology PhD program at the University of California, Irvine, where she began attending in the Fall 2020 with full funding. In talking with EWU McNair in the fall, Marixza noted the impact of the program:
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 in conducting research and attending 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!