Heidi is investigating the psychological mechanisms by which socioeconomic status, stereotypes, causal attributions, and ethnic identity influence youth’s academic motivation and achievement. She is particularly interested in these issues as they pertain to racial/ethnic minority or disadvantaged youth, who are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.
Heidi was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and moved to the United States at the age of five. Due to her family’s economic instability, however, she continued to move back and forth between the two countries until she started high school. By that time, Heidi had attended 16 different schools across two cultures and languages. Nevertheless, she dreamed of going to college in the US.
Applying to colleges was an eye-opening process for Heidi. Even though she was graduating at the top of her class, she felt insecure about her ability to succeed at Regis University, as did many of her Hispanic peers. As she successfully progressed through college, Heidi realized how powerful psychological barriers can be, especially for youth who lack the support of mentors. She had come so close to not pursuing dreams she was capable of accomplishing.
Now, as a dual graduate student in the developmental and social psychology programs at the University of North Carolina, Heidi dedicates her research to understanding the psychological factors that stand in the way of youth. Her ultimate goal is to produce research findings that can inform effective educational policies and interventions.