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Graduate Student Spotlight: Nitza Torres-Gonzales

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Nitza Torres-Gonzales

The Latin American and Latino Studies Program takes pride in supporting graduate students and featuring their stories. This academic year we welcomed to campus Nitza Torres-Gonzales, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, School Psychology Program. Torres-Gonzalez is a native of Puerto Rico. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Here is more about her experiences as a graduate student at ISU.

You have been on campus for nearly a year, what has been your experience as a graduate student at ISU? What advice would you offer undergraduate students considering going to graduate school?

My experience as a graduate student has been a good one. Although my program is very demanding and challenging, I have found a support system within my cohort and faculty members that makes it possible for me to achieve my goals. I also was able to create a beautiful relationship with a professor that is a faculty member here at ISU, also from Puerto Rico, Dr. Toro-Morn, where she looks after me and makes me feel like I have a family away from home.

If I were to offer any advice it would be to come with an open mind and not to stress about how demanding the program is because everything gets done. Faculty members are very supportive. They will demand a lot from you, but you have a community that wants to see you succeed and will help you achieve your goals. Plus, at the end of the day you will feel very prepared and ready to tackle whatever is thrown at you. One of the benefits of graduate school is that you are working a lot in teamwork, at least in psychology.

What are your goals after graduation?
I would like to work at a clinic part time and at a university doing research. I am interested in doing clinical work because I recognize that there is a need for clinicians that are bilingual. I am bilingual and I want to be able to help my community. I also would love to work in academia. I would love to train future professionals and do research related to Autism and other disorders.

Tell us about your affiliation with the Latin American and Latino Studies Program.
Although I have not been able to attend many of the activities organized by the program, the program made me feel welcomed and part of the university. I think Latino studies does a pretty good job of providing students the opportunity to learn about themselves and other cultures. For me, it has created another support system, an extended family that understands better what I am going through.

What would you tell a student considering declaring the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor?
Nowadays, it is very beneficial to know as much as possible from diverse cultures. Latinos, for example, are a growing community in the U.S. and chances are you are going to come into contact with someone who like me, is from Puerto Rico or Mexico or other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean in your classes, community, or when you travel. Students across the university would benefit from acquiring the minor because it offers a great learning opportunity and more importantly complements any major program.

What was it like to go home in December?
Going back home in December was really fun. I was able to spend time with my family and love ones who I missed greatly. I was also able to be a part of all our traditional festivities and even appreciate them more. It was also great to go home and eat my mom’s food. I was home during the first part of the earthquakes and that was hard.

Can you share with us what happened?
The earthquakes started on December 28, 2019, and really haven’t stopped. The whole experience was really nerve wracking because you can’t really predict an earthquake. Earthquakes have caused a lot of destruction. In a way the worst part is not knowing when it will stop shaking. A lot of people lost their homes and everything they had. I was there to see everyone come together to help those in need. It was such a gesture of compassion and union. Although it has definitely been difficult and has caused a lot of suffering because we’re just getting back on our feet from Hurricane Maria’s effect, the people from the island and all over the Puerto Rican diaspora have responded very quickly to those in need.