Edmundo Perez was one of 32 college juniors picked to attend a highly selective summer program that prepares undergraduate men of color for doctoral studies and other research related careers in education, public policy, criminal justice and workforce development.
To be considered for USC’s Grad Prep Academy, students were asked to submit information regarding their personal and academic background, two references and a 750-word essay.
“I was at a coffee shop studying for my classes when I got an email notification from USC,” said Perez, an early childhood studies major. “Once I opened it and saw that it said ‘acceptance’ I got this energy right away and jumped out of my chair. I was so excited to be selected from a national pool of 500 candidates.”
Participants attended faculty research presentations, learned how to apply to graduate school and were paired up with a mentor.
“Preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) was one our biggest assignments,” he said. “We were also assigned to small groups and given the opportunity to share our academic interests. The great thing about that activity is that everyone got to feed off from each other and make a connection on how we can help one another.”
Perez’s current research project involves creating a learning application for people with disabilities.
“My learning application will help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with ASD struggle with repetitive behaviors and communicating effectively. My application would help improve these skills,” he said.
His goal is to become an occupational therapist and help disabled patients develop life skills.
“My motivation for wanting to become an occupational therapist came from past experiences,” he said. “Since my sisters were at school, my mom would take me to work with her. As a private certified nurse assistant, I watched her assist patients in becoming more independent. Also, interning at Building Blocks Therapy 4 Kids expanded my perspective on how to contribute to the field. It’s a joy to see the children become more independent or simply cut with scissors to finish their assignment for the day.”
Perez also serves as a research assistant in the Department of Early Childhood Studies in the College of Education and Integrative Studies.
“The faculty and staff in our department have been great,” he said. “For example, Assistant Professor Giselle Navarro-Cruz has made a tremendous impact on my educational experience. I feel the energy and passion that she brings to her lectures every time. She has challenged me in the field and always has questions that make me think deeper. I’m honored to call her my mentor and excited for the future of the early childhood studies field.”
For more information about CEIS, contact Ashley Jones at 909-869-5370.