Jonathan Vides, a psychology major minoring in both Latino and Caribbean studies and women’s and gender studies, uses his academics to explore social issues on a cognitive level,
“What are the things holding us back that may not be visible?"
Jonathan Vides has long been fascinated by the human brain, and by issues of race and gender.
So the School of Arts and Sciences senior designed an ideal undergraduate program. He’s majoring in psychology and minoring in both Latino and Caribbean studies and women’s and gender studies. He plans an academic career that will fuse these topics into an integrated field of study.
“I want to pursue psychology and find a way to incorporate social concepts such as race,” Vides says. “What’s going on in the brain when we look at race and gender? Why do we see ourselves as so different from one another, and what are the neural processes that push for that?” Vides said his academic interests were shaped by his own life. The son of a Dominican mother and a Salvadoran father, Vides grew up in New Brunswick very aware of his Latino immigrant background and insatiably curious about the lasting impact that the experience might have on him and others
“I am trying to understand my own reality through a scientifically grounded perspective,”
he says. “How do experiences of stereotyping, social exclusion, or alienation affect us psychologically? What are the things that are holding us back that may not be visible?”
Vides, working with
Diana Sanchez, a professor in the Department of Psychology, is conducting research that directs those
questions to other communities. His current project examines how women of color respond to stigmatizing experiences.
“Ultimately, we want to understand how we can help ameliorate the effects of a stereotype in historically threatening environments,” Vides says.
While psychology remains his primary focus, Vides says he’ll leave Rutgers empowered and inspired by the courses he took in his two minors. Latino and Caribbean studies helped him become more fully vested in his own history, while women and gender studies provided what he describes as the intellectual “glue” he needed to develop his theories.
He feels especially grateful to professors Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel and Carlos Decena, who have faculty appointments in both departments, and who inspired him to examine the role of race, ethnicity, and gender in his experience and that of others.
“Honestly, the courses I have taken here have changed me completely,” he said.