Psychology graduate student awarded NSF fellowship

Pamela Pimentel is interested in juveniles in the justice system, tracking this potentially vulnerable group’s path from questioning to incarceration.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Pimentel, her parents and her two siblings moved to the greater Chicago area after she finished high school.

Like many immigrants to this country, Pimentel did not speak the language. She also did not know the society, culture or values—critical elements for someone who envisioned a future in law and psychology. So she chose to go back to high school as a junior and repeat the last two years. After high school, she went to community college for two years before matriculating at University of Illinois at Chicago, where she would graduate with a bachelor of arts in psychology.

For graduate school, Pimentel was recruited by many different schools and eventually applied at 12 different institutions. Her top choice? FIU. “This was my dream university—the faculty, the community, the city,” she says. And now FIU has helped her realize another dream—to win the NSF fellowship. “I’ve learned that in order to achieve anything in life, you have to believe in yourself, you have to search for opportunities, be persistent and above all—be passionate about education,” says Pimentel.

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