I Can Dream Big! The Story of Rubi Guadarrama

David Reyes

Who would have thought that a small-town girl named Rubi Guadarrama coming from Sylva, North Carolina would dare to travel hundreds of miles away from home to make her dreams a reality.

This young girl is a first-generation college student who received a bachelor’s in social work and psychology from Delaware State University. Her hard work and dedication have brought her to a new chapter of her life as a graduate student and is currently enrolled in the molecular and cellular neuroscience program at Delaware State.

She is interested in the science of brain and behavior and is researching the effects of self-efficacy and mindfulness on memory. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology. Her intention for pursuing higher education is to learn and serve the community

Rubi Guadarrama (2021 Graduate Student at Delaware State University)

Q: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in High School/College? A: I went to traditional high school my freshman and sophomore years and then transferred to an early college program where I could get an associate’s degree. After that, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I wanted to go to college but I wasn’t able to afford it. I was granted a full ride scholarship to attend Delaware State University, which has allowed my dreams to come true. I came to Delaware for my undergrad. I graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelors in Psychology and a bachelors in social work. I’m now in a master’s program.

Q: What scholarship allow you to complete your undergraduate degree?

A: The is the organization that supported my education by granting me the opptunity scholarship. Delaware State has a partnership with the Dream.US that made my attendance to Delaware State possible. Due to my immigration status, I did not qualify for financial aid. When it came time to apply to college, my inability to pay for my education was the greatest barrier I faced. I’m grateful that the supported me financially to complete my degree. Del state has demonstrated commitment to diversity by allowing me and other students like me to attend.

Q: What made you want to study this field of study?

A: The trajectory that led me to want to study neuroscience was a long one. I first came to Del State pursuing a social work degree, but once I started exploring other options, I had a change of heart. I still enjoy social work. It taught me valuable skills, but I fell in love with research and neuroscience during my junior year when I participated in Delaware’s summer research opportunity IDeA Network for Biomedical Sciences (INBRE). The experience ignited in me an interested in the field of neuroscience.

Q: Tell us about the internship opportunities that you participated in and how they were funded?

A: All the research internships I participated in during my undergrad were paid and funded through some sort of research grant devoted to enhancing student involvement in research by different organizations such as the NIH. This was great because it gave me the opportunity to focus full time on my research without having to worry about getting a second job and splitting my time. 

Q: What was the most memorable part of college?

A: The most memorable part of college was definitely the summer research internships I participated in. I was lucky enough to be part of quite a few. I did a summer internship with the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, and then I also did a research internship with the University of Michigan. Those opportunities really allowed me to broaden my horizons and explore career options and figure out whether I was really doing the right thing.

Q: Can you give us some brief information about Neuroscience, and why is it important for us to know about this?

A: Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and the brain. Questions that neuroscientists seek to answer are how the brain impacts behavior and cognitive functions and how this formulates our reality.  Neuroscientists are concerned with what happens to the nervous system when we have neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Neuroscience holds the key to learning more about what makes humans so unique and what may differentiate us from other complex living organisms as well to what goes wrong in diseased states.

Presenting Project at the Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts

Q: Who overlooks your studies and experiments?

A: I am a research assistant to Dr. Jarid Goodman assistant professor in the department of psychology. I have been in his lab since the fall of 2019. He is such a wonderful mentor and has supported me every step of the way. He has been super attentive and has given me the opportunity to explore various research interests. Dr. Goodman is interested in how emotions influence memory and at the lab has various tools to answer these questions including behavioral, psychophysiology and virtual reality techniques.

Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student who is undecided on his or her career path?

A: That’s a great question. So, like many others, I struggled figuring out what I wanted to do. I had a lot of going back and forth and second guessing whether I had chosen the right career, whether I liked it or not. So, I would say that to any undergrad out there trying to decide what they want to do, take advantage of every opportunity that comes available to you and seek out internships, connect with your instructors find mentors and figure out what you want to do and get some hands-on practice.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested into studying “Neuroscience”?

A: I would say to advantage of every opportunity that may present itself to learn more about the field. Now a days information is readily available at the tip of our fingertips so look into podcasts, listen, or read books, follow pages about the topic and learn as much as you can. Reach out to mentors and other students studying neuroscience and ask about joining a lab taking initiative of your learning will help you figure out if the field is right for you.

Q: How would you describe yourself to the world?

A: I think it becomes more powerful when somebody else describes you. Our lab hosted a party for the graduates the year I graduated. We went around and said few kind words describing all the graduates. When it came to my turn Dr. Lawal described me as resilient and that stuck with me. 

Categories: Education, Interview

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