As a student in UAlbany's highly competitive doctoral program in clinical psychology, Isaura Olivares plans to study the role of resiliency "in the lives of ethnic minorities who succeed in the face of adversity."
It's a topic shaped by her own life experiences and the rich diversity she found as an undergraduate at UAlbany-SUNY.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Olivares moved with her family in 1993 to Brooklyn, where she and her sisters learned English and tutored their parents in the new language.
She found herself again navigating a new world and gaining new perspectives as a freshman at UAlbany.
"The diversity at UAlbany was completely different from what I was used to," said Olivares, who embraced the many opportunities offered by her new environment. She became a resident assistant, a counselor with the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, and an assistant in three different psychology research labs, where she saw the value of life-enhancing research.
Her experiences led her to new areas of inquiry. "I started asking why people weren't doing as well as they could," Olivares said. "I started thinking: How can I help people in my community become better people?"
Olivares, who graduated magna cum laude in May 2008, will continue to pursue answers to these questions in her doctoral studies at UAlbany-SUNY.
"I want to help people become the best they can be," she said.