Anayeli Gamino breaks barriers as first generation college graduate

By Angela Garza
Contributing Writer

Anayeli Gamino (C’21) is majoring in psychology and minoring in women’s and gender studies (WGST).

“I am a big advocate for mental health, so naturally I leaned toward psychology. It is a fascinating subject, and once I learned how diverse and rich the Sewanee psychology department was, I knew it was meant for me,” said Gamino.

Also, Gamino never intended to minor in women’s and gender studies, but instead realized that she had already been taking classes in that discipline and decided to continue on with her study.

“One day, my advisor noticed the electives I took were overwhelmingly in WGST and told me I only needed one class to officially become a minor! I love WGST because it challenges societal norms and helps me become more open-minded,” explained Gamino.

Photo of Anayeli Gamino (C’21). Courtesy of Anayeli Gamino.

For Gamino, attending college had always been a dream. She is a First Generation college student and Latina. She aspires to break the barriers of Latinas earning their college degree because the educational attainment statistics for them are so low. The graduation rate of Latinas receiving a bachelor’s degree is 11.0%, and receiving their master’s degree or higher education is only 4%.

Gamino named Dr. Colom-Cruz in the psychology department as a huge influence in her desire to study psychology because she has exposed her to many opportunities involving research on campus, including her independent research study with other psychology students called Latinx and Cultural Psychology Lab. Learning from Dr. Colom-Cruz has inspired Gamino a great deal and encouraged her to continue her studies to be a research psychologist.

“The simple presence of a Latina professor at Sewanee helped me understand that becoming a doctor was a possibility for me as well. Working in her lab opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in research and opened the doors for me to work as a Research Methods teacher assistant, conduct summer research, present at the SPSP convention, and submit my work to the Journal of Sewanee Science,” said Gamino.

Gamino recently participated in The Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s (SPSP) Annual Convention with the help of Professor Colom-Cruz. Her presentation was on “Exploring Mentality, Ethic Identity, and Mental Health in Mainland and Island Puerto Ricans”.
“Despite the convention being online, I was able to network with other professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and discuss job opportunities. Dr. Bardi recommended SPSP to me in 2019, and then Dr. Colom-Cruz suggested that we submit our abstract in 2020,” said Gamino.

Gamino plans to continue her work in this field by becoming a licensed research psychologist.

“I am currently seeking lab manager positions in the social-community psychology field to conduct research aimed at understanding the psychology of oppressed and impoverished communities,” she explained.

Even though Gamino has experienced grand opportunities in her work, she did express that there are still misconceptions about the psychology field.

“People tend to assume that psychology is only about mental health and therapy, but it actually incorporates a wide range of topics. They also tend to think one cannot find a well-paying career in this field, but that is not true,” she said.

Gamino, sadly, was one of the many students who studied abroad her spring semester of 2020 in Austria and had to come home because of the pandemic.

“I studied in the IES Vienna Psychology and Social sciences program. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I learned to financially budget, speak basic German, and cohabitate with roommates from all over the world. Resuming the semester online in the U.S was not ideal because no one was prepared, but I was happy to be with my family. I gained a lot from my short experience in Vienna,” Gamino said.

This summer, Gamino plans to work as a lab manager at a university to further support her desire to become a research psychologist. She says that her time at Sewanee has truly allowed for many opportunities for her to be successful.

“Take advantage of the opportunities Sewanee has to offer! Build close relationships with professors,” Gamino concludes.

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