College of Social Sciences
Why did you choose your major?
I chose psychology because I enjoy solving problems. In particular, clinical psychology is a field that provides some of the most unique problems in regards to human behavior. Solving these problems, or contributing to a body of literature that aims to alleviate suffering, is something that appeals to me. As a clinical researcher, one has the opportunity to make a dramatic difference in the lives of many human beings. Be it through developing therapy approaches or enhancing methods of dissemination, suffering is so prevalent that there will always be opportunities to make a huge difference.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
It means a lot. It gives me the opportunity to showcase to others all the hard work and long nights I put in, while hopefully, instilling inspiration in someone to work just as hard.
Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic
The list is much too long. However, I attribute much of my success to my mentors. Dr. Glenn Callaghan, who took me in his lab as a transfer student, and mentored me from the inception of a research idea to the final product. He helped me figure it out where my passion lies. Dr.'s Wei-Chien Lee and David Emmert, who direct the Mental Health Ambassadors Program, and gave me another family, full of compassion yet firm direction. I gave my first workshop through their training and I owe a lot to them. Jeannine Slater and Nisha Gurbaxani, from the McNair Scholar's Program, who guided me through the terrifying process of completing a research project and applying to graduate school. All of these human beings give so much of themselves to their students on a daily basis and I don't know how they do it. However, my family has been there always. My mom, Darcia; my dad, Greg; my sister, Emma; and my loving girlfriend, Angela, and her family, have all supported me 100%. Without any of these people my experience would have been significantly more difficult.
Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape
who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?
My adolescent experience was abnormal, to say the least. I barely made it out of high school with an education that was extremely lacking in comparison to most students at that age. Throughout junior college, and even more so at San Jose State, I was consistently reminded of my shortcomings. However, this gave me the motivation to try harder for my peers who come from similar backgrounds to see that the traditional experience isn't required.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic
My message is directed to any student who comes from a nontraditional background, be it educational, cultural, or otherwise. You will have to try harder than all of your peers, this I can guarantee. But, no one is superior to you, and it is effort that will bring you to that point of excellence. If you are willing to work for it, you can obtain the goal. This is the "American Dream"; not everyone enters education on an equal playing field, but there are ways to surpass other's expectations of you.
Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
I will be attending a PhD program in Clinical Psychology next fall. So, in this time frame I hope to be in an academic setting where I can conduct meaningful research on behavioral therapies. I also hope to maintain a position in the community from where I can aid in dissemination efforts to populations who have not traditionally had access to resources that the average American takes for granted. Additionally, I hope to live a life that I value with a loving family. This would be ideal.
Nominated by Professor Ron Rogers:
Several faculty members have identified him as "exceptional in his talents, motivation, and service.”