After transferring to Carolina from Alamance Community College two years ago, Samantha Garcia Cruz ’21 was looking for research opportunities surrounding her interest in psychology.
The UNC Brain and Early Experience Lab ended up being the perfect fit for both her academic interests and her desire to explore community-based research. Through working in this lab, Garcia Cruz not only researched and learned — she excelled.
Carolina has recognized Garcia Cruz’s hard work and excellence by awarding her the Barbara Davis Goldman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which acknowledges an outstanding undergraduate student who has participated in research activities at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
“As a first-generation college student, I never really had an awareness of or introduction to what research could actually look like,” Garcia Cruz said. “I’ve learned a lot of new skills from the lab, but I think what I really learned is that I really like being with and talking to participants, actually getting to interact with them and finding out what they need and what we can provide for them.”
According to Garcia Cruz, receiving the Barbara Davis Goldman Award showed her that she’d made a difference in the lab as much as the lab has made a difference in her life at Carolina.