Growing up in a deeply impoverished city called Mandaluyong in the Philippines, my parents and grandparents inspired my motivation to achieve academically. Ever since I was a happy, hyperactive child, they have instilled within me the value of obtaining a college education even if we didn’t really have it all. Driven by this, they ultimately made the difficult decision to immigrate to the United States in order to afford my brothers and me a better chance to succeed in life. Although I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it at the age of ten, their sacrifice became a continual reminder of how important they were in helping me navigate an increasingly competitive and stigmatizing academic landscape during my formative years here in the United States. As a result, I came to fully appreciate an invaluable lesson: in the face of tremendous economic, social, and individual challenges, quality education is attainable.
The experiences that I shared with my own parents as an immigrant youth impassions me to conduct research on how parents socialize and instill academic values in their kids, especially those who are disadvantaged in today’s educational system. My current research—which was awarded the 2016 National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP)—examines the multidimensionality of family management strategies ethnic-minority parents implement in order to address the worries and goals they have for adolescent children and what these mean for students’ developmental outcomes. Ultimately, I hope that this body of work will be a powerful source that emboldens parents of ethnic-minority adolescents to successfully bolster their children towards aspirations for higher education, much like my own did for me.
To this end, I’m very proud to share DECADE’s mission of increasing participation of historically underrepresented students in graduate education. Over the past year, I’ve been mentored by incredibly talented, driven, and intelligent individuals who can relate to my own experiences. Thanks to my mentors at DECADE and the School of Education, I’m currently developing deep understanding of the real-world problems ethnic-minority youths face and refining my skills and knowledge as a researcher to figure out the ways we can foster their academic potential. As a burgeoning mentor myself, I’m greatly inspired and driven to help guide future leaders in our field. I’ve already taken the initial step toward this goal by serving as a graduate writing mentor for UCI’s Summer Research Program, helping undergraduate students in their graduate school applications and their NSF GRFP proposals. I’m extremely excited and delighted to be able to become mentor to these students, as well as for the future opportunities that DECADE may provide for me.