COURTESY OF KAREN VELOZ
A cold case in Karen Veloz’s family left her wanting answers.
Veloz, WSU sophomore biology and criminal justice and criminology double major, became interested in the field of criminology when she lost a relative to what was declared a motorcycle accident. Her family is still unsure whether there was an intent to kill, she said.
She is a member of the McNair Scholars Program in hopes of achieving her career goals of researching crime in Latinx communities.
Veloz grew up in a Latinx household. She observed social and cultural differences from other students she went to school with. After noticing these differences, she said she became interested in understanding how the culture of Latinx communities impact the individuals who were raised in them.
In the next few years, Veloz said she wants to complete her graduate studies at University of California, Berkeley, to earn her doctorate in criminology and forensic sciences.
The McNair Scholars Program provides students with experience, which allows them to continue their education at graduate school. Veloz is conducting a research project about the significance of parents validating their children’s behaviors and emotional triggers, she said.
“This is definitely more of a psychological research project outside of my scope, which gave me the curiosity to explore,” Veloz said.
She said this topic is difficult to research as an undergraduate student because WSU does not provide a program specifically in that field. However, she is determined to find a way to conduct her research.
“I’m looking for faculty that would be a good fit for me and my research interests,” Veloz said. “I have always been interested in learning about cold cases especially within Latinx populations.”
As she continues her first year in the McNair Scholars Program, Veloz said she is grateful for the courses, as well as her mentor Diana Baldovinos.
Baldovinos said she has a close relationship with Veloz because they are cousins, but they grew closer through the McNair program.
As a McNair Scholar, there are several responsibilities when conducting research. Although faculty help students narrow their research topics, it is the students’ responsibility to propel their projects forward, Baldovinos said.
With this heavy workload, it is easy for students to become overwhelmed, Baldovinos said. Her role as Veloz’s mentor is to give her advice on how to better manage her time in the program and be the best student.
“Grad assistants are also really great at checking in with the students in the program weekly or bi-weekly,” Baldovinos said. “[Faculty] really emphasizes the importance of making mental health a priority and teaches us how to incorporate mental health and wellness into our daily routines.”
Baldovinos said she is proud of everything Veloz has already accomplished. She knows the work in the McNair program is challenging, but she is hopeful Veloz will continue to grow on her journey.
“I think this experience will be a great call to action for Karen,” Baldovinos said. “I can’t wait to see what she does as she continues to develop her research.”