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Research fellowship opens more doors for USC Dornsife students

Pamela Johnsonby Pamela J. Johnson
HSBC Fellow Natalie Santizo stands at her poster with her faculty mentor, George Sanchez, and Lilly Tung of HSBC Bank. (USC Photo/Pamela J. Johnson)
HSBC Fellow Natalie Santizo stands at her poster with her faculty mentor, George Sanchez, and Lilly Tung of HSBC Bank. (USC Photo/Pamela J. Johnson)

Feeling her notes, her fingertips following lines of raised dots, Karen Arcos spoke about her research on schizophrenia before an audience at USC’s University Club.

The psychology junior shared her work during the HSBC Fellow Research Presentation on Sept. 9. Arcos is part of the HSBC Fellows Program, which helps first-generation and underrepresented students develop career skills through research and faculty mentorship.

Each of the 13 USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences fellows received $1,000 during the 2012-13 academic year and $3,000 over the summer to fund research projects.

“On behalf of HSBC, we’re honored to support such outstanding students at such a great school,” said William Ozaki ’04, vice president/global relationship manager at HSBC’s Los Angeles office and an alumnus of the USC Thornton School of Music. “USC and HSBC share the same values. At HSBC, we have main values that guide our business: being dependable, doing the right thing, being open to different cultures and ideas, and connecting with the community.

“Since 2008, HSBC has been proud to partner with USC on various scholarships, and provide research funding for deserving students.”

Arcos is one such deserving student. Born premature, weighing 1 pound, 2 ounces, she lost her eyesight as an infant. Overcoming all obstacles, the half Columbian and half Mauritian first-generation college student has proven to be an exceptional scholar.

Arcos’ research examined Latino schizophrenics and their caregivers. Acculturation, she said, affects how family caregivers treat their patients. Developing research shows that Mexican-American caregivers are more involved in their patients’ lives than Anglo-American caregivers.

After analyzing interviews, Arcos found that the moderately and highly acculturated families saw the caregiver-patient relationship more positively than the less acculturated. Some saw a mutual benefit between caregiver and patient.

Él viene siendo como mis manos,” one stroke victim said of his schizophrenic son, which translates to, “He has become like my hands.”

She embraced the opportunity to conduct the research under the guidance of Steve Lopez, professor of psychology and social work at USC Dornsife, who attended the event.

Melvin Earl Villaver Jr. was accompanied to the event by one of his faculty mentors, Shana Redmond. (USC Photo/Pamela J. Johnson)

Melvin Earl Villaver Jr. was accompanied to the event by one of his faculty mentors, Shana Redmond. (USC Photo/Pamela J. Johnson)

“Earning an HSBC fellowship reaffirms my belief in persevering no matter what,” Arcos said. “Dr. Lopez’s mentorship has motivated me to continue believing in myself and to give back to others. Participating in this research has broadened my horizons about what psychology has to offer and has exposed me to a population I would have otherwise known about only on the surface level.”

After the presentations, HSBC representatives met the fellows, who elaborated on their research. Some fellows were accompanied by their faculty mentors.

Such was the case for Shawn Rhoads, a junior majoring in physics and psychology. His faculty mentor, Edward Rhodes, professor of astronomy, watched on while Rhoads described his research on temporal changes in solar pressure oscillations.

Melvin Earl Villaver Jr., a junior majoring in sociology, was also accompanied by one of his faculty mentors, Shana Redmond, assistant professor of American studies and ethnicity. A Filipino-American hip-hop artist, Villaver analyzed “black music” as it relates to black migration, Filipino migration, Los Angeles neighborhood formation, public school systems and the history of hip-hop.

Katrina Kaiser ’13 recently earned her bachelor’s in economics at USC Dornsife and is now pursuing her master’s in economics at USC Dornsife. She continued the previous research of economics professor Jeffrey Nugent, examining the Egyptian economy since the 2011 Arab Spring. Nugent also attended the event.

“For the past several summers, I’ve had to work full time, so winning this scholarship allowed me to focus on my passion, on my research,” Kaiser said. “It was also a treat to meet other social justice-minded students who prioritized community well-being and history in their research, and to see how we all gained new skills.”

Fellow Eduardo Milliedo-Pinon went to high school at Foshay Learning Center, located a few blocks from the University Park Campus. He participated in the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, a program that prepares students for higher education. Now a comparative literature major at USC, he researched how the use of video can engage new audiences for orchestra and operatic performances.

Some fellows were also members of USC Posse, which supports less advantaged students from their senior years of high school throughout college and into the workforce, said George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity, and history, and vice dean for diversity and strategic initiatives at USC Dornsife.

Sanchez was a faculty mentor to several fellows, including Anneleise Azua, a double major in gender studies and communications. Azua explored issues of folklore, healing and gender in the traditional South Texas healing practice of curanderismo. Roxana Ontiveros, another mentee, is a political science and Chicano studies junior. She studied the rich Jewish history of Boyle Heights, Calif. Yet another mentee, Natalie Santizo, a psychology and sociology junior, decoded the past, present and future of Boyle Heights.

The HSBC program’s main faculty organizer, Sanchez spoke at the event and presented the fellows with certificates of completion.

“We want this program to provide research experiences for students interested in developing skills for their future academic and career successes, whether or not that includes a graduate program,” he said. “These students represent the present and future of our demographic reality, and the success of our regional economy is highly dependent on having well-trained professionals from these groups emerge as world leaders.”

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