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Arely Vasquez


Hi, I'm Arely! I am a 4th year Warren College student, majoring in Data Science.


AEP Program Participation

TRELS Summer Research Program


Area of Research

My research consists of using Data Analysis and Data Mining Models to understand what are the main variables that keep high school first-generation students from going to college. Followed by using these models to predict who is more likely to go to college, while identifying students less likely and highlight their needs for more support and resources to help them apply and go to college.


Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

Initially I always thought that university level research consisted of scientists working in labs coats, wearing eye goggles, and mixing a bunch of test tubes. But I have come to see that research can be conducted in many different ways. In my case, it involves reading dozens of scholarly essays, finding and analyzing data sets and ultimately making an impactful story out of it.

As a first-generation college student, I have met a lot of individuals that share a similar story and have had a handful of significant struggles while going to college and obtaining a degree. For that reason, I wanted to be able to make an impact and research what can be done to help first-generation high schoolers go to college. I want to highlight the lack of resources that first-generation students receive in high schools and the inequality of accessing certain college-promoting resources.


How did you get your start in research?

During the start of the pandemic back in March, I was starting to panic because industry internship opportunities had been cancelled due to the pandemic. I had a couple friends who did TRELS during the school year and had been telling me to apply for a while now. I applied to TRELS with a potential project in mind that I felt was very meaningful to me. A couple months later, I got an acceptance email for the TRELS Summer Research Program and I still didn’t really know what research looked like at the time. But with help from my peers in the program, support from my very involved mentor, Prof. Jingbo Shang, and all the time in the world being stuck at home because of a global pandemic, I got to work!


How have you been affected by COVID?

This global pandemic was really the reason I chose to do research. With the decrease of the internship opportunities due to the pandemic, I figured I would try this summer conducting research and make the most of it! Although initially I was a little skeptical of what research would look like, this pandemic has given me so much time during the summer to really apply all of the data science skills I have learned in my classes to a topic that is beyond meaningful to me.

I am also a huge fan of doing work at coffee shops throughout San Diego, so I was a little bummed out by that! But the bright side was that COVID has allowed me to try some new coffee recipes at home to get my day started!


How are you being innovative in order to continue doing research?

There are times that I get stuck while doing my research, I think it is common to happen while working on a project for so long. But I constantly think back to why I chose to research this topic and the motivation behind it. I look back and start to think of how much first-generation high schoolers need the extra support. I think we need to show those first-generation students unlikely to go to college, the power of what college education/degree can do for an individual’s future and for their family. Education is one of the most powerful tools an individual can have. I have also been reaching out to first-generation college students who are friends of mine, asking them to reflect on their transition from high school to college and get their insight on what they experienced and what could have been done to give them extra help and support.


What is keeping you hopeful right now?

With the recent news released by UC’s that Latino students are the largest group admitted, this gives me so much hope that there will be more reforms and support towards certain groups including first-generation students.

I am also really looking forward to my upcoming senior year of college and hoping that COVID-19 will have a cure by the time of graduation.


What are your future plans?

I am planning to continue an extension of my research project throughout my senior year. As for plans after graduation, I plan to work in industry for a couple of years before potentially going back to school for a master’s in data science.

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