Cristian Vazquez

Cristian Vazquez

"A graduate degree is essential for the advancement of knowledge."

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree Program: Psychology
Degree: Doctoral

Award: McKnight Doctoral Fellow (2023)

Why FSU?

One of the main reasons I choose to attend FSU to pursue a graduate degree in the Department of Psychology was because it allowed me to combine my interest in statistics and reading research. The program I applied to had a world-renowned researcher who is affiliated with the Florida Center For Reading Research.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

One of the reasons why I chose to pursue a graduate degree was because I wanted to contribute to the advancement of educational sciences and explore how early literacy instruction could be improved to help struggling readers and minorities learn to read. I had a background in statistics and reading research and pursuing a graduate degree gave me the opportunity to keep learning about the two things I was most interested in. I also believe that pursuing a graduate degree will allow me to be a voice for the Hispanic community, which has been underrepresented in my field of study.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

The research that I get to engage in is motivated by exploring how early literacy instruction can be improved to help struggling readers and minorities learn to read. There is a disconnect between what the science of reading says is the best way to teach children to read and what is being taught in school. The work that I do is motivated by strengthening the research-practitioner partnerships to facilitate more effective reading instruction.

Career aspirations

Beyond having hopefully many first-author publications, one of the main goals that I have is to be a professor and be the principal investigator of a research lab. I want to conduct research studies that assess the effectiveness of early literacy instruction to see how it can be improved to help struggling readers and minorities learn to read.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

If I had to give advice to someone considering graduate school the biggest thing I would say is ask as many questions as you can and be present as much as possible. If you don't know something, ask, and when you are invited somewhere, go. Some of the most special moments that I can remember, have happened randomly and unexpectedly. Give yourself the best chance of being in the right place at the right time by saying yes to invitations. You never know how things are going pan out. It is also important to be patient; don't burn any bridges, and have some faith in the process.

Accomplishments during graduate career

One of the accomplishments I am most proud of at this stage in my career is the fact that I had the opportunity, as a first-year graduate student, to lead an in-person data collection project that will be the basis of my master's thesis and successfully had everyone in the lab involved in the project. What seemed like an impossible task turned into reality, and I was so incredibly grateful to have had that experience so early in the program. The second accomplishment I am most proud of at this stage in my career is the fact that I will lead a more ambitious, larger-scale in-person data collection project, from start to finish, with all the colleagues I started working with as an undergraduate student at FSU. I believe this new direction in my research will change the course of my academic career in the long run. I am also proud to have become a Florida Interdisciplinary Research Fellow in Education Sciences (FIREFLIES). Lastly, I am proud to have co-authored a peer-reviewed publication with other lab members that was published online this past fall.