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Student-faculty collaboration leads an SXU alumna toward career success


The alumni of Saint Xavier University (SXU) never cease to make the University proud! SXU's large network of alumni can be found all over the world making amazing things happen in many different industries. Through their successes, SXU alumni exhibit the value and reputation of a degree from SXU. Like all of our alumni, alumna and 2017 graduate Yesenia Garcia is a perfect example that anything is possible with some hard work and persistence.

A psychology major at SXU, Garcia was always heavily involved in her program. She worked with Angela Pirlott, Ph.D., during the spring 2017 semester on a psycho-social research project titled, "What Predicts Mexican Immigrants" Post-Secondary Educational Attainments?" A first generation student and Mexican immigrant herself, Garcia wanted to analyze the factors that contribute to achievements made by Mexican immigrants surrounding higher education.

"We are now collaborating on a follow-up study analyzing potential predictor variables more in depth," said Garcia. "Our aim is to analyze which factors influence the difference in post-secondary educational attainment between Mexican immigrants and Chinese immigrants living in the U.S."

Always a hard worker, Garcia was even able to present her research not only at SXU's research fair but also at the ACCA conference. She graduated SXU with a 3.80 GPA, which she earned while working a full-time job.

After graduation, Dr. Pirlott encouraged Garcia to seek out work with a psychology faculty member. This would help her to network and gain valuable experience working in a lab while she waited for her acceptance into a graduate program. Soon after finding work in a DePaul University, Garcia was accepted into DePaul's graduate psychology program.

"I am so incredibly proud of Yesenia and her hard work," said Pirlott. "I am also very happy that we, at SXU, have created ways for Yesenia to achieve this goal by supporting student-faculty research opportunities."

In this next chapter of her life, Garcia hopes to get as much information and experiences out of graduate school as she possibly can. She hopes to have the opportunity for collaboration with other students and faculty, like she did at SXU.

"My long-term goal has always been to serve minority communities," said Garcia. "I aim to implement programs in schools and communities that strive towards social justice when it comes to higher education and its attainability in minority communities."

With aspirations for a career of helping others, Garcia has big plans for her future. She knows the struggle that many minority students face when trying to pursue higher education and wants to minimize any stress or doubt they might be feeling.

'My favorite aspect of psychology is that it allows you to understand phenome you are interested in explaining and sharing with the rest of the world," said Garcia. "It is so rewarding being able to comprehend and sympathize with people when you observe from a psychological stand-point and realize there's more than meets the eye."

While reflecting on her undergraduate experience, Garcia remembers how organizations such as Tau Sigma and Psi Chi made her feel welcome during her time at SXU. While she established close relationships with many members of the SXU faculty, she is especially grateful to Dr. Pirlott and Carissa Broadbridge, Ph.D., for their guidance and contributions to a positive and fruitful research experience.

Congratulations, Yesenia! SXU is proud of your achievements and cannot wait to see what you accomplish next.

Remember to keep in touch with SXU! Keep us updated and check out some fun events that Alumni Relations has planned. The Alumni Office can be reached at 773-298-3316 or alumniFREESXU.