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Amy Nuñez


Bio, Research, Abstract

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    Acknowledgement to Mentor:

    "It has been a privilege to have Dr. Martín Meráz García as my faculty mentor for the McNair Scholar Program these past two years. It has been through his support and encouragement that I have grown as a student, community organizer, and future scholar.

    I first met Dr. Martín during my first year in college when I enrolled in the Introduction to Chicano Culture course. Since then, we have continued to communicate regarding my academic goals and career aspirations. I still remember the day when Dr. Martín approached me to speak about the McNair Scholar Program and the potential he saw in me to someday obtain a doctorate degree. I was completely unaware at the time of how to pursue an education after a bachelor's degree as well as how the McNair Scholar Program would positively impact my life.

    Through this program, I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Martín on an extensive research project regarding "The Perceptions of College among Latino/a Elementary Students." This research has proven to be a vital topic and has ignited necessary academic discourses surrounding how race/ethnicity and gender affect the perceptions of pursuing college in Washington State. It has been presented at conferences nationwide, including the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Pacific Northwest Political Science Conference in Bend, Oregon. This experience has been extremely rewarding and has substantially prepared me for the rigors of graduate school.

    Dr. Martín has been, and continues to be, a significant role model in my life, and I cannot refer to my successes without attributing much credit to his guidance. It has been through his mentorship that I have had the opportunity to present at conferences, study abroad in Cuba, become a teaching assistant, and apply my research findings by actively engaging in my community. It has been an honor to work with an individual whom I humbly look up to, and I have no doubt that his mentorship will continue to provide guidance as I continue my education in graduate school." - 2014

    "I would like to take this time to thank my mentor, Dr. Martín Meráz-García for the dedication he has shown to help me complete my research study and the encouragement he has given me to present at conferences as well as in his classroom. I greatly appreciate the time and effort he has put into supporting my education as well as my extra-curricular activities promoting higher education and engaging in political involvement. I am confident that with his guidance, I will be able to navigate graduate school and ultimately be the superintendent of a school district someday. Dr. Martín is a significant role-model in my life and I hope that someday, I will make a positive difference in someone else's life as he continues to do for me." - 2013


    Amy Núñez was born in Pasco, Washington and raised in Yakima, Washington. She graduated from Eisenhower High School in 2010 with the desire to be an elementary school teacher.

    As a student at Eastern Washington University, Amy has begun to research the inequalities in education and has become inspired to find ways which schools can enhance the academic achievement of all students including those who come from low-income, minority, and/or undocumented backgrounds. One of the most efficient ways that she believes we can accomplish this, is by impacting, implementing, and evaluating policies that affect this population of students. For this reason, Amy is planning to pursue a doctorate degree in Education after completing her undergraduate studies. 


    Dr. Martin Meraz Garcia, Assistant Professor, Chicano Education Department, EWU

     TRiO McNair Research Internship:___________________________________________________________

    Perceptions of College Among Latino Elementary School Students (2013)

              According to the Pew Research Center, the disparity between Latinos (14.5%) and Caucasian (51%) students who earned a bachelor's degree in 2012 continues to concern scholars and policymakers. For this reason, this project looks at the college perceptions among Latino elementary school students in Washington State and how schools can improve their academic achievement. One unique aspect of this research includes the different perspectives according to gender among Latino children. This aspect of the research is important because the gap between males and females attending college continues to increase.  

                Scholarly articles (Chung and Dickson 2011; Spears, Brown, and Chu 2012; Moreno and Gaytán 2013; Becerra 2012), support the statement that the educational system in the United States can improve the services provided to Latino students in order to increase their chances of attending college. Some concerns raised by these scholars includes the lack of certified teachers and administrators who are culturally competent and can help Latino students develop the skills they need to succeed in college. These skills include effectively managing issues that may result from their socioeconomic and undocumented status, language barriers, and a lack of positive sense of cultural identity.
              With approval from the Institutional Review Board at Eastern Washington University, this study used a rendition of the Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark doll experiment adapted to address Latino student's self-perception regarding academics. Additionally, interviews and focus groups of Latino children and parents were conducted as well as a survey of teachers totaling 72 participants (N=72). The interviews of approximately 35 randomly selected children in grades 2-5 from four different schools focus on self-reflection and their academics.  At least 75% of the students in these districts were of Latino background with 79% qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Approximately 12 parents were recruited using the Snowball Sampling Method. The focus groups with Latino parents aimed at identifying factors they believed may be contributing to the academic perceptions of their children. Lastly, a survey of 25 teachers across Washington State was conducted with questions aimed at gauging their cultural competency.  The study finds that schools can intervene much earlier and do more to help Latino children develop the foundation needed to prepare them for the rigors of higher education.

    Conference Presentations: __________________________________________________________________________

    Núñez, A. (2013). Perceptions of College among Latino Elementary School Students.

    The purpose of this research is to discover the perceptions of college among Latino elementary school students and explores factors which may lead to these perceptions. It aims to identify ways in which we can improve our educational system by addressing the needs of Latino students and concurrently improving their academic achievement.

    Núñez, A. (2012). The Cuban Educational System.  

    This research seeks to discover why Cuba's educational system is successful in regards       to academics, attendance rates, literacy rates, and retention rates. It additionally    explores the similarities and differences in the educational systems between Cuba and the    United States.

    Núñez, A. (2013). Secondary Education in the Yakima School District.                      

    This research investigates the trends of graduation and dropout rates of Latino students in the Yakima School District. It aims to discover some of the different factors which contribute to the lack of motivation from students and analyzes the strategies that the school board, counselors, and teachers are doing to address this issue.

    Graduate School Acceptances: ______________________________________________________________________

    Contact Information

    Eastern Washington University
    526 5th Street
    Cheney, WA 99004

    phone: 509.359.6200 (campus operator)

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