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Chico State

Chico State Psychology Students Honored as CSU Pre-Doctoral Scholars

A lit doorway in front of an otherwise darkened academic building
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Two Chico State students have been recognized by the California State University as Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars, the system’s prestigious awards for their doctoral aspirations.

Among this year’s 76 Sally Casanova recipients are Chico State students Arely Saldana (Psychology, ’20) and Recamier Jauregui-Ocampo (Psychology, ’22). Both psychology graduate students, Saldana will be mentored by faculty Linda Kline and Jauregui-Ocampo will study under the mentorship of faculty Shawn Bates.

The Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars program offers students unique opportunities to explore and prepare to succeed in their future doctoral programs. Scholars receive one-on-one guidance from faculty members within the CSU and the opportunity to work with faculty from doctoral-granting institutions. 

Jauregui-Ocampo and Saldana will both receive financial awards of $5,000 to support their plans in development with their faculty mentor. The funding for this academic prize can also be used for activities like participation in a summer research experience program at a doctoral-granting institution; visits to doctoral-granting institutions to explore opportunities for doctoral study​; travel to a national symposium or professional meeting and related activities, such as membership in professional organizations and journal subscriptions; graduate school application and test fees.

Saldana’s interests lie in legal psychology and political psychology, and she hopes to pursue her doctorate to further study the implications of circulating information about a suspect or a victim in the media before a trial. In particular, she is interested in two specific questions: How does the media’s pre-trial portrayal of defendants and victims impact jury decision-making and how does releasing mugshots prior to a trial affect the verdicts?

Of Saldana, Kline sees a keen and observant student researcher who demonstrates excellent writing skills and a rich understanding of the research process. While she will be a research assistant for Kline this semester and a teaching assistant for several faculty this coming academic year, Saldana is also engaged outside of the class. She is an outreach coordinator in the Adelante Program as well as the University’s student representative for the Western Psychological Association.

“Arely will make important contributions to the field of psychology as a future professor and have a powerful impact on the next generation of psychology students,” Kline said. “I believe she has the intellect, the persistence, the motivation and the skills to succeed as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar.”

Bates says that he believes Jauregui-Ocampo’s research and thesis can potentially have a broad impact—together they are exploring how adolescent stress might increase vulnerability to opioid use disorder, a prevalent public health crisis.

Stress-related mental illnesses, such as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, affect approximately one in four individuals in the US—and they disproportionately affect adolescents. Jauregui-Ocampo will present this work at the Annual Meeting for the Society of Neuroscience in November 2023, as well as the College of Behavioral & Social Science Research Symposium and the Student Research Competition on campus. 

“Reca is determined, hardworking and meticulous—he stands out because of his tenacity,” Bates said. “He’ll be researching a previously unexplored area that may yield important discoveries that contribute to treatments.”