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Aventuras en Los Angeles

Viviana Vallin
Los Angeles at Night from the Griffith Observatory


This past week I had the opportunity to be in Los Angeles! My parents and siblings live in Las Vegas and I spent the second half of my childhood there, but L.A. feels like my home. I stayed with my family in the San Fernando Valley while commuting to work at Loyola Marymount University with Dr. Barbara Christie.

I had time to squeeze in some fun before I had to work. One thing I love about being Mexican-American is valuing time with my family!  I spent the holiday weekend with my family who drove me down from Las Vegas. On Sunday we went to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach pier for dinner. At the beach I was joined by my parents, siblings, niece, uncles, aunts, and cousins. All together we were almost a group of 20!

Living on my own in Philaldelphia makes me truly cherish my time with family; I only get to visit them a couple of times a year. This has been one of the hardest asjustments for myself and for them. However, we try to stay connected with daily phone calls and making my visits meaningful.

The following day I was also able to spend time putting my veterinary skills to practice! My Nina (godmother)’s family has a small ranch located close to their home in San Fernando. I practiced basic physical exams and husbandry skills on their horses, goats, and chickens. I also examined my uncle’s four feisty chihuahuas! Being able to care for my family’s animals is incredibly rewarding and a big part of what drives me.

My project with Dr. Christie was also rewarding and reassured my commitmet to education research. Part of my work included conducting a literature review of how to evaluate summer programs for minority youth interested in STEM careers.  I was responsible for designing surveys to help evaluate LMU’s SECOP program.

Dr. Christie’s research was interesting and unique in that it focused more on the role parents play in advising and guiding their child in making decisions about college. A lot of factors influence this role including the parents educational attainment level. We wanted to know where parents obtain information to guide their child. Do they have enough information to be involved in the decision process? If not, maybe programs such as SECOP could be a great way to offer workshops for parents to become more familiar with financial aid, scholarships, application process, career options, etc.

This research is personally interesting to me because I am a first generation college student and my parents were not involved in my college application and career making process. I am eager to review the survey results and hope that it can lead to future resources for parents and students.

My week in L.A. also included salsa dancing at Hermosa Beach, beach days, visiting my old neighborhood, catching up with more family and friends.  When I left, I felt a renewed sense of self  and a strong dedication to continue my work in Philadelphia. I  know that I will be able to return as professional with more tools to contribute to this dynamic, complex, and beautiful city.

My next adventure begins in Indianapolis!


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