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Amy Nuñez


Bio, Research, Abstract

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    Acknowledgement to Mentor:

    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.




    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.

    Presented at:

    •·         Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (2014)

    •·         National Conference of Undergraduate Research, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (2014)

    •·         Globalization, Diversity, and Education Conference, Airway Heights, WA (2014)

    •·         NACCS Pacific Northwest Fall Regional Conference, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA (2013)      

    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.

    Presented at:

    •·         Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (2013)

    •·         Strategic Planning Conference, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (2013)

    •·         "Why I Went to Cuba" Public Forum, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA (2012)                                                                                                                 

    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.

     Presented at:

     •·         Pacific Northwest Political Science Association Conference, Portland, OR (2012) 

    •·         NACCS Pacific Northwest Fall Regional Conference, Toppenish, WA (2012)

    Contact Information

    Eastern Washington University
    526 5th Street
    Cheney, WA 99004

    phone: 509.359.6200 (campus operator)

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