Orlando Sánchez Montes ’14

Orlando Sanchez

Hometown: Oaxaca, Mexico
Major: Clinical Psychology

The power and importance of wisdom and knowledge are pillars of Mixteco culture, whose members are a peaceful people in the region around Oaxaca, Mexico, where I was born. While neither of my parents received a formal education, throughout my childhood they both emphasized the importance of learning and education. Mixtecos value the preservation of unity and harmony within community and family, which ultimately influenced my decision to pursue a career in clinical psychology.

I am the first member of my family to attend college, and the journey has not been easy. While I attended community college for two years, I was encouraged by the people around me to apply to highly ranked universities where I could continue studying psychology. Little did I know that the next two years at SPU would strongly challenge my academic abilities and my faith.

During my time in the Psychology program, I was introduced to a wide variety of methods for examining the human mind. During my junior year, I served as an intern for a nonprofit mental health agency. As a child mental health therapist, I was able to work with children who had been diagnosed with psychological issues. But it was my enrollment in Dr. Kathleen Lustyk’s “Physiological Psychology” course during my senior year that sparked my interest in neuropsychology, which would eventually strongly influence my career path.

In addition to academics, I encountered new belief systems and theological issues, which forced me to examine religion from a different perspective. The ability to unearth these questions and discuss them with students, staff, and faculty was extremely enriching. Through these relationships, I was able to reconcile my faith and indigenous background into a cohesive spiritual identity.

After graduation, Dr. Mícheál Roe encouraged me to seek training in psychological research. I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer in Dr. Beverly Wilson’s research program, which not only was instrumental in providing me with training, but also prompted me to pursue a doctoral degree.

Presently, I am a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology at the Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri. Acquiring special training in traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder will allow me to answer my calling for rehabilitation neuropsychology while solidifying the foundation of my culture.

Kara Bazzi

Kara Bazzi’s Story

“As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, I decided to embark on a mission trip to Jerusalem to work in a rehabilitation center for children. As a pre-medicine student, I was expecting the trip to draw me toward the children’s physical ailments, but instead it clarified my passion for psychology.”