Cristian Garcia Alcaraz

"I identify as a cultural researcher who believes that culture plays a major role in how people experience the world."

Cristian Garcia Alcaraz
Cristian Garcia Alcaraz is a student SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program in clinical psychology. 

When I was in high school, I thought I would follow in my family’s footsteps. Like my mom, I was already an undocumented farmworker who did not see himself working outside the raspberry and strawberry fields of Oxnard, California. I aspired to become a ranch manager and perhaps form a family along the way. It never crossed my mind that someday I would pursue a doctoral-level education at the SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, where I have received several opportunities to expand my career as well as to build a wonderful, supportive academic family. 

Under the mentorship of Drs. Kristen J. Wells and Vanessa Malcarne, I have received ample opportunities to publish in peer-review academic journals. Recently, as a first author, I helped publish a manuscript titled “Exploring Classes of Cancer Patient Navigators and Determinants of Navigator Role Retention” in Cancer, a prestigious journal from the American Cancer Society. 

I am also thankful to Drs. Georg E. Matt and Scott Roesch, both of whom have provided the statistical skills that allowed me to become a salient contributor to research projects. For example, I undertook the above-mentioned project’s mixture modeling analyses under the supervision of Dr. Scott Roesch. In academia, these are a few people among several others (e.g., my cohort buddies and clinical supervisors) who have heavily and positively influenced my career trajectory. Outside of academia, my family (e.g., Andres, my brother), dog named Cuauhtémoc, and agricultural, undocumented community provide me the motivation to keep overcoming obstacles in academia, hoping to help tear down those barriers for other underrepresented students. 

Today, due to my network of support and my grit, I am proud to say that I am a DACA, Mexican student at the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and recipient of San Diego States’ University Graduate Fellowship and of the Strategic Enhancement of Excellence through Diversity (SEED) Fellowship, UCSD Graduate Division. 

I identify as a cultural researcher who believes that culture plays a major role in how people experience the world. I am interested in understanding how culture and individual-level factors contribute to differences in the performance of psychometric instruments, disparities in mental and physical health, and disparities in the utilization of primary care and mental health care services. I also want to explore how emerging technologies can be used to improve mental and physical health, but also how informational technology brings novel, harmful phenomena (e.g., virtual social networking addiction) to humanity through the manifestation of the virtual world. 

It is also worth noting that I enjoy diving deep into the mechanics of statistical approaches, such as multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis, that can be used to explore cultural-related questions. After completing my doctoral degree, I hope to have my own research lab and teach at an academic institution; provide clinical services to underserved and marginalized populations (e.g., farmworkers); and, because equality is for all, develop inclusion programs that promote diversity in the sciences, especially in psychology.