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ARC/Sally Casanova Program Brings 11 Scholars to UCSB for a Summer of Research and Resources

As one scholar put it, “It takes a village to get a Ph.D.” UC Santa Barbara’s Graduate Division provided that village for 11 bright scholars from throughout the nation, who came to the campus for a summer of research, collaboration, and camaraderie. The Academic Research Consortium/California Pre-Doctoral Scholars (Sally Casanova) program, hosted by the Graduate Division, once again offered research experiences, mentoring, and academic support to help these scholars achieve their personal and professional goals.

The program identifies talented and motivated students who have the potential to succeed in graduate study, but who have experienced situations or conditions that have impeded their advancement. The scholars are matched individually with UCSB faculty and graduate student mentors who provide training and support during the seven-week summer program. The scholars have the opportunity to explore their discipline and gain valuable research experience. That experience was demonstrated at the end of the program when the scholars presented their research to an audience of colleagues, mentors, family, and friends.

Director of Admissions and Outreach Walter Boggan leads a workshop. Credit: Mario Galicia Jr.

To facilitate their research, the students attended six workshops covering such topics as library training, presentation skills, funding, and digital reputation. And to maintain that important work-life balance, the scholars stepped away from their studies occasionally to enjoy the Santa Barbara area with a beach barbecue, an ice cream social, and a sunset cruise, among other activities.

The students came from as near as Santa Barbara, Northridge, and Long Beach, and as far as Florida and New York. There was a diverse range of research topics, including: resources and relationships of gang-associated Latino youths; perceptions of beauty among Korean women; games and gaming for cognitive health; personal and professional negotiations among Latina faculty; and fostering resilience in children of incarcerated parents.

ARC scholar Alexandria Pech presents her research talk, titled “Predicting and Fostering Resilience in Children of Incarcerated Parents.” Credit: Patricia MarroquinARC scholar Alexandria Pech from Sonoma State University said she “loved that I had a whole team working to make sure I was getting everything I needed.” She said the program enabled her to improve her networking, speaking, and presentation skills, as well as make friends “who were diverse, intelligent and fun to be around.” Pech said she learned a lot about graduate school life. “I feel much stronger as I get ready to apply to Ph.D. programs in a couple of months,” she said.

Education grad student Kevin Delucio was Alex’s mentor. “As a grad mentor, it was very rewarding knowing I was able to 'pay it forward,' so to speak. Having been in Alex’s position not too long ago, I was happy to give her any tips and tricks I learned along the way, which hopefully make her feel more confident as she begins working on her applications. As a first-generation college and graduate student, it is difficult to navigate this process – and academia in general – alone. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my experiences with someone of similar background in efforts to increase our presence in academe.”

Kathy Espino-Pérez listens to a question after presenting her research talk, “The Effects of Diversity Statements and Primed Merit Ideologies on Judgments of Racial Discrimination.” Credit: Patricia MarroquinKathy Espino-Pérez, a first-generation Chicana doctoral student and a Sally Casanova scholar from Cal State Northridge, will begin her Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at UCSB this month. The program gave her a jump-start on her Ph.D. studies, said Kathy, who added that she was “truly surprised at how much I could learn in the seven-week program.” The workshops, Kathy said, “were incredibly valuable, because they connected us with people that both prospective and incoming doctoral students, such as myself, will definitely use as resources throughout our doctoral careers.”

“I definitely look forward to being a positive example for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Kathy said. “At my undergraduate institution, only one professor in the Psychology department was Latina and one professor was a black woman; there were no black or Latino male professors. I hope to be part of a group of strong, intelligent minorities who changes that trend. I come from a low socioeconomic background, am the first in my family to graduate from college, attain a master’s degree, and hopefully complete a Ph.D. My ultimate goal is to be able to mentor future students and conduct research that has real world implications.”

Grad student Tessa Dover mentored Kathy Espino- Pérez.Tessa Dover, a grad student in Psychological and Brain Sciences, found it fun, rewarding, and educational to mentor Kathy. “It's nice to be able to hand information down, and be able to help shape a fellow student's knowledge and approach to research. Moreover, it was just fun to hang out with Kathy and talk about ideas. Finally, it was great because it gave me a taste of mentorship that will hopefully serve me as I have my own graduate students in the future.”

ARC scholar Bianca Haro of University of San Diego studied under the mentorship of Dr. Victor Rios and grad student Sarah Rios. “I think for anyone who participates, this program becomes a huge steppingstone for his or her educational career,” Bianca said. “The staff and mentors who work to make this program possible do their job 110%. They welcome us with open arms and take the time to provide the participants with all the tools and resources UCSB has to offer.”

The university made a huge impact on Bianca. “Going to UCSB for graduate school never crossed my mind. However, after participating in this summer, UCSB is my top choice. I left with a great impression of UCSB. Everyone I met, whether staff or student, made me feel welcomed, were friendly and willing to help.”

Bianca Haro gives her presentation, titled "Second-Chance Kids: The Perceived Relationships and Emotional Resources Gang-Associated Latino Youth Receive From Teachers." Her mentor was grad student Sarah Rios. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe experience “reinforced my desire to go to graduate school and obtain my doctoral degree,” Bianca said. “Here, I found my passion and the social justice change I want to make. Furthermore, my mentor and peer mentor made a huge impact on me as a scholar and provided me with new skills that will be beneficial to my coming school years. This program challenged me in ways I was not aware I could overcome and definitely gave me a good idea of what graduate school entails.”

Grad student Sarah Rios was a great fit as mentor to Bianca. “I got to see the challenges I went through as a first-generation college student of color happen all over again,” Sarah said. “Similar to Bianca, I had to figure out a lot on my own. I was glad to share my experiences with her and try to give her as much support as I could.”

Kathy, who explained that her research is her activism, said she wants to use the skills and training she gains as a UCSB doctoral student to “help address issues of prejudice, discrimination, and stigma that affect people in their everyday lives.”

She is appreciative of the help and support she has received from faculty and staff at Cal State Northridge, as well as the Graduate Division staff from Admissions and Outreach: Director Walter Boggan, Assistant Director Haley Orton, Coordinator Roxanna Quach, and Diversity and Outreach Peer Mario Galicia Jr. “It takes a village … to get a Ph.D.,” she said. “Thanks for the support.”

Read more about California State University’s California Pre-Doctoral Program.

And find out about last year’s ARC/Sally Casanova program in our 2012 GradPost article, “17 ARC/Sally Casanova Scholars Participate in a Successful 8-Week Summer Program.”

Nine of the 11 2013 ARC/Sally Casanova scholars are, from left, Bianca Haro, Ana Peña, Aubrie Adams, Daniel Larson, Brittney Williams, Alexandria Pech, Marisa Salinas, Claudia Vargas, and Alvaro Luna. Credit: Roxanna Quach

The complete list of 2013 ARC/Sally Casanova Scholars, their universities, and the mentors and departments they worked in this summer are:

Denise Benetatos – California State University, East Bay
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Sociology - Mentor: Dr. Denise Bielby

Alvaro Luna – California State University, Long Beach
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Comparative Literature – Mentor: Dr. Ellie Hernandez

Claudia Vargas – CUNY Hunter College
Academic Research Consortium Scholar
Department of Economics – Mentors: Dr. Peter Rupert, Jenna Stearns

Kathy Espino-Pérez – California State University, Northridge
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences – Mentors: Dr. Brenda Major, Tessa Dover

Bianca Haro – University of San Diego
Academic Research Consortium Scholar
Department of Sociology – Mentors: Dr. Victor Rios, Sarah Rios

Aubrie Adams – California State University, Sacramento
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Communication – Mentor: Dr. Debra Lieberman

Marisa Salinas – San Diego State University
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Sociology – Mentor: Dr. Denise Segura

Daniel Larson – California State University, Chico
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Environmental Science & Management – Mentor: Dr. Arturo Keller

Brittney Williams – University of Florida
Academic Research Consortium Scholar
Department of Education – Mentors: Dr. Jason Raley, Victoria Harvey

Ana Peña – California State University, Bakersfield
California Pre-Doctoral Sally Casanova Scholar
Department of Sociology – Mentor: Dr. George Lipsitz

Alexandria Pech – Sonoma State University
Academic Research Consortium Scholar
Department of Counseling, Clinical, & School Psychology – Mentors: Dr. Melissa Consoli, Kevin Delucio

The ARC/Sally Casanova Scholars, as well as UC-HBCU and McNair Scholars, enjoyed a beach barbecue in July. Credit: Mario Galicia Jr.The ARC/Sally Casanova, UC-HBCU, and McNair Scholars pose for photographers at a beach barbecue in July. Credit: Mario Galicia Jr.

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