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Student Profile: Jacqueline Lechuga

Last Updated on August 14, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Originally published August 14, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Jacqueline Lechuga is a first-generation college student who didn't think she could afford to get a degree. Now, she's working toward a Ph.D. in psychology.

Jacqueline Lechuga is a first-generation college student who didn't think she could afford to get a degree. Now, she's working toward a Ph.D. in psychology.

Name: Jacqueline Lechuga

Classification: Doctoral student

Major: Psychology, with a concentration in social, cognitive, and neurosciences

From which high school did you graduate? San Elizario High School, Class of 2013

What drew you to UTEP? As a first-generation college student, UTEP’s mission of access and excellence allured me to become a student here. For me, attending college was not a viable option because of a lack of financial resources. Nonetheless, UTEP’s affordable education made it possible for me to obtain a higher education.

What have you enjoyed most about studying here? I have greatly enjoyed the diversity of opportunities that are offered to all UTEP students. Specifically, it was here at UTEP where I received one of the first invitations to actively engage in psychological research. Through the mentorship of remarkable professors like Dr. Stephen L. Crites and Dr. Daniel N. Jones, I discovered the professional career that I want to pursue.

In which extracurricular activities are you involved? I am currently an executive officer for the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA). The GSA is the bridge between graduate students’ interests and needs, and the corresponding administrators and school resources that may provide a solution. The GSA has made me aware of problems affecting the student community and has provided me with an opportunity to change their situation for the better.

What’s your favorite place to relax or study on campus? One of the things I like to do to relax is play volleyball. The recreational center at UTEP offers intramural tournaments for a variety of sports. I am captain of “Pavlov’s Puppies,” and along with a group of graduate students, we compete every fall semester at the volleyball intramurals. One of my favorite places to study is in my lab because I have a great relationship with my undergraduate research assistants and fellow graduate students. At times when I have felt drained and stressed, all of them have been supportive and have encouraged me to continue.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why? One of my favorite classes has been human sexuality. Dr. Theodore Cooper is a dynamic professor who always made class enjoyable. Most importantly, I enjoyed this class because it is closely associated with one of my research interests. My research mainly focuses on different aspects of romantic relationships.

Tell us about a hands-on learning experience you’ve had at UTEP? As an undergraduate student, I was a research assistant in multiple laboratories at UTEP. I was given the opportunity to develop my own project for an honors thesis and independently work on different aspects of a study. I submitted this project to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and was selected to be a recipient of this prestigious award.

Tell us about undergraduate research opportunities you’ve taken advantage of at UTEP. In total, I have six years of research experience and have worked in five different laboratories here at UTEP. I have worked with a variety of topics that include personality traits, singlehood, impression formation, and different types of close relationships. In the midst of these experiences, I have come to understand the value of having great mentors. Now, part of my role as a researcher is to train undergraduate students and provide them with skills that will make them successful.

What are your career aspirations? I aspire to obtain a faculty position at a research-oriented university where I can continue to pursue my passion for research. Additionally, I would like to continue teaching and instill in students an interest for the study of psychology.

What’s your favorite UTEP event, and why? One of my first college experiences, other than academic-related experiences, was attending Minerpalooza with my friends. I enjoy Minerpalooza because it always feels like a throwback moment; many of my friends who have already graduated from UTEP reunite during this event.

What advice would you give to an incoming UTEP student? I think that it’s important for all students to become familiar with the resources and opportunities that UTEP has to offer. Taking advantage of these resources and opportunities can make the difference between being a good student and being an outstanding student. UTEP offers students opportunities for professional development, such as internships and research programs, and resources to maintain good mental and physical health like those found at the UTEP Counseling and Psychological Services office and the Student Recreation Center. These opportunities are available for both undergraduate and graduate students.