Commencement Spotlight: Miguel Gonzalez fell in love with cognitive psychology research at UTSA


Psychology major Miguel Gonzalez researched how personality impacts academic success

Psychology major Miguel Gonzalez researched how personality impacts academic success.

(May 8, 2017) -- Meet Miguel Gonzalez. After working several jobs and raising two children, he joined the Roadrunner family to pursue his dream of earning a bachelor's degree.

Gonalez was accepted into the UTSA Honors College in fall 2015. After meeting and getting to know top-tier faculty in the UTSA Department of Psychology, the UTSA undergraduate became interested in learning more about the department's coursework and research opportunities. He decided to major in psychology after taking an entry-level course.

While at UTSA, he received a Terry Scholarship to help cover his tuition costs. He also received support from the UTSA RISE program, a National Institutes of Health-funded program that prepares ethnically and financially underrepresented students for top-ranked Ph.D. programs and careers in research.

Through the UTSA RISE program, Gonzalez was introduced to Thomas Coyle, a UTSA professor who specializes in cognitive psychology research.

"RISE was a game changer for me because it provided me with financial assistance to conduct research," said Gonzalez. "It allowed me to take that next step to enter the professional scientific world. It also allowed me to attend seminars where I learned how to prepare for graduate school."

Working alongside Coyle and his graduate students, Gonzalez researched how personality traits predict test taking abilities and academic achievement. Gonzalez says his experience as a non-traditional student who had a tough childhood inspired him to conduct the research, which he hopes will shed light on the challenges facing students who are less outgoing than their peers and those who have less support at home.

Gonzalez reported on his research in his honors thesis. He also shared his psychology research at a conference in San Antonio, an experience that gave him the confidence to present his research in front of others and network with other students and faculty interested in cognitive psychology.

"I have just gotten my feet wet with this type of research and plan to continue studying cognitive neuroscience," said Gonzalez. "I feel like this type of research can influence education leaders around the nation and even impact public policy to come up with ways to make sure every student, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to excel in school."

He wants other non-traditional students to know that UTSA is a place where they can thrive.

"UTSA is a very nurturing and inspiring environment to be a part of," he says. "It's never too late to chase your academic goals."

- Kara Mireles

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Learn more about the UTSA Department of Psychology.

Learn more about the UTSA Honors College.

Learn more about the MBRS-RISE program at UTSA.

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