A first-generation college student and a daughter of Mexican immigrants, north Denver native Faviola Robles-Saenz has never been one to take education and opportunity for granted.
A graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, Robles-Saenz’ activities as a Colorado State University psychology major have been influenced by her dual-cultural, immigrant family background. She will soon receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in industrial and organizational psychology, and she plans to pursue a research career within that field.
Robles-Saenz has worked in several labs, starting in her second year with cognitive psychology professor Matthew Rhodes. Through Rhodes, Robles-Saenz became involved with the Department of Psychology’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, which works to retain students from diverse backgrounds and connect them with department and campus resources.
Robles-Saenz currently works with Assistant Professor Tori Crain, who specializes in sleep- and stress-related occupational issues, as well as with Professor Lynn Shore in the College of Business, who studies team dynamics and organizational culture. Saying she has “fallen in love with” scientific research, Robles-Saenz recently pursued a study, under Crain’s supervision, investigating the role of family-specific resources for immigrant workers. That work has been accepted into the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s conference this spring.
Her chief inspiration is her mother and father, who work as a nanny and a construction worker respectively, and are raising five children; Robles-Saenz has two older and two younger siblings.
“My parents work jobs that are often forgotten about,” she said. “I want to give those types of workers a voice.”
“My parents work jobs that are often forgotten about. I want to give those types of workers a voice.”
— Faviola Robles-Saenz
Robles-Saenz is also grateful for the federal Pell Grant, which allowed her to save money while paying for college. Beyond her work as an undergraduate researcher, she is a building manager at the Lory Student Center, and serves on the LSC Governing Board. She has served as a mentor to younger students through El Centro, and she has been a teaching assistant for two courses.
She advises incoming college students to “live in the moment.”
“I remember getting here and being so grateful, for everything – the buildings, the resources, even the furniture,” she said with a smile. “For first-generation students, it really is because of you that you’ve gotten to this place, and you deserve to soak it in. Enjoy it and take advantage of it, because it’s a privilege to have this education.”