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Psychology Major Recognized as Cal Poly Great Grad

Growing up, psychology major Marcos Ramirez-Santos never thought much about his education.

Marcos Ramirez-Santos

“Honestly, I never planned on going to Cal Poly, or even college in general,” said the 22-year-old. “At the time, I didn’t have education as a main priority in my life. After a while, I realized the importance of it and the benefits of earning a bachelor’s. Cal Poly was close to home, and I could actually afford it financially on my own.”

At Cal Poly, he found that the Learn by Doing education challenged and prepared him for his goal of pursuing a doctorate in school psychology. He also found caring professors who inspired him.

“My professors changed my perspectives about the importance of education, and they made me feel that I belong here at one of the top universities,” he said. “My professors have become friends and are always updating me on new opportunities with internships, jobs and experiences.”

The Chico, Calif., resident also had financial support from the Cal Poly Cares Program that provides grants to assist struggling students like Ramirez-Santos, who worked 40 hours a week while a full-time student. The grants help offset core expenses — including housing, meals, academic supplies, unplanned emergencies and other various costs.

“My professors were very understanding of my situation of being an independent student who had to work and go to college full-time,” he said. “Even when my professors didn’t have office hours, they always made time to accommodate my schedule. Through them, I was introduced to many jobs and internships that gave me experiences to make me eligible for graduate programs.”

Ramirez-Santos found time to assist others, like himself, whose struggles weren’t just financial, as a member of the Student Diversity Committee for the College of Liberal Arts.

“Being a first-generation college student and being a transfer student as well, when I first got here I felt a little bit lost because I didn’t know where to go or how to get help,” he said. “When I joined the diversity committee I felt a sense of belonging.

“Through this, I have gained insight and experience on learning about mentoring and leadership.”

In addition, he served on the college’s Underrepresented Students Network, a new peer mentoring program for underrepresented students that provides support and advice about on-campus resources.

Upon graduation, he will work full-time as a behavior technician at the Kids Connections Developmental Therapy Center assisting clients diagnosed with autism. The center (with offices in San Luis Obispo, Rancho Cucamonga, Simi Valley and Van Nuys) provides support to children and families to ensure successful integration and participation in community activities that are meaningful to the families as a unit.

And he will pursue graduate degrees in psychology to “work alongside children and teens to prepare them academically, emotionally and mentally for success,” he said.

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