Monica graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2011. She went on to the complete her M.S. in Psychology at UTSA in 2013, under the guidance of Dr. Tina Zawacki. Monica worked as a research assistant in the Dr. Zawacki’s DYAD Research Laboratory beginning in her junior year through completion of her Master’s degree and post-graduation. As an RA, Monica assisted with NIH funded research examining alcohol and relationship effects on women’s sexual health decisions. Monica’s thesis examined factors that influence the labeling of nonconsensual sex as sexual assault. Monica was invited to teach the undergraduate Experimental Psychology Laboratory in her second year of the Master’s program and continued doing so post-graduation. She was also invited to train new Master’s level students to teach the Experimental lab.
Monica was admitted to the newly founded doctoral program in Psychology at UTSA in 2014 under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Weston. Monica works as lab supervisor in Dr. Weston’s Relationship Research Lab where research is focused on understanding the motives and context of violence within romantic relationships. For her dissertation, Monica plans to focus on the role of childhood experiences in young adult conflict communication and the cumulative effect of these factors on perpetration of violence within romantic relationships. As a teacher, trainer, and lab supervisor, Monica has had the opportunity to be a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students.
After earning her Ph.D., Monica plans to continue conducting research examining situational predictors of intimate partner violence at the community level and with military families. Research in this area will inform the development and implementation of programs to promote healthy relationships and help prevent and eliminate partner violence in our communities. Monica would like to pursue an academic career so that she can conduct research to impact her community as well as mentor and inspire young researchers.