McNair Scholars Profile: Psychology Graduate Discovered Passion at Central

Bianca Sanchez never saw herself going to college, much less pursuing her doctorate in school psychology.

The 2022 Central graduate went through high school checking the boxes necessary to graduate, and only applied to CWU to see if she could get in. Once she was accepted, she started down a path that would take her places she could have never anticipated.

“I’m a first-generation student, which is one of the reasons why I never really thought about college, because my mom never went,” said Sanchez, a native of San Diego who won the James and Katie Gaudino Award at the 2022 SOURCE Conference. “Central gave me the opportunity to realize my potential and start learning more about the things I care about.”

Sanchez’s mentor, Dr. Olivia Holter, directed her toward the McNair Scholars program, which opened up the door for her to pursue a psychology degree, and eventually a school psychology certification at the post-graduate level.

“I truly think that the lessons I’ve learned over the last two years as part of McNair have really prepared me for graduate school,” Sanchez said. “They really helped ease my worries and gave me the sense that they were prepared for all the questions I might have, and the issues I might run into.”

Having just started her doctoral studies at Illinois State University this fall, Sanchez looks forward to providing others with the inspiration she felt was missing in high school.

“I wish I’d had better representation during my time in the public school system,” she said. “A big part of why I do what I do is that I hope that my representation—being a brown woman in this space—can help kids like me see that they can be whatever they want to be, with no limitations.”

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