Possible Selves and Health Behaviors of Latino Adolescents
Possible Selves and Health Behaviors of Latino Adolescents

A study identifying whether Latino adolescents’ future goals are related to their educational and health behaviors, and how their hopes and fears motivate those behaviors.

Student researcher: Neha Jadhav, junior psychology major with minors in chemistry and creative writing

Faculty mentor: Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology, director, clinical psychology program and health psychology program, and director, Latino Mental Health Clinic

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE AND INTO THE COMMUNITY

NEHA JADHAV: I got involved in this project as part of the Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program through The Honors College. Our goal was, and is, to find a correlation between what Latino adolescents hope to become and what they’re afraid of becoming in the future, and how those outcomes can be improved. Having to step outside my own culture and comfort zone, I learned as much about myself as I did about the research topic.

ROSALIE CORONA, PH.D.: It’s a great thing for undergraduates to go beyond the classroom into a real-world setting — to get out of the textbook and make it real, and see how research can contribute to the community. Neha sought us out when she was still a sophomore. She had an interest in psychology research and chose the Possible Selves project. For someone as young as she was when she started in research, I was really impressed with her natural ability in terms of the scientific process. She picked up on and was able to write and make manuscript contributions right away. Very quickly we realized that was a strength of hers, so she got to participate in tasks that I haven’t had undergrads working on that intensely.

THE RESULTS: The Possible Selves project is still ongoing, but through data analysis I’ve been able to identify some important findings. The adolescents I researched had a wide gap between their potential — their possible selves — and what they feared could happen because of behavioral risks. I hope these results lead to improved prevention programs and better outcomes. I’m so privileged that Dr. Corona gave me this amazing opportunity to work with her — I hope to someday become the mentor and guide she has been. Being part of this project showed me why my parents put so much importance on educational achievement when I was growing up. It all makes sense now.