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Minerva Zayas

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Minerva Zayas

Minerva Zayas is a senior at Eastern Washington University and a Woman and Gender studies and Psychology major with a minor in Spanish. As a McNair Scholar, I am working towards my academic endeavors of obtaining a PhD in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on feminist studies. My research focus is surrounding how queer Chicana women have had to negotiate their psychological identity and professional identity within higher education. My research focus has derived from the need to reach out to low income Hispanic families, and marginalized groups in order to provide affordable counseling services. My scholarship endeavors will allow me to continue to narrow my research focus, within an epistemological perspective, in order to create social justice change.

McNair Faculty Research Mentor: Dr. Jessica Willis - Women's and Gender Studies

McNair Research Title: Beyond Labels and Boundaries: Queer Chicana Individuals and Psychological Identity Development 

McNair Research Abstract: Chicana women experience gender oppression and have actively challenged gender bias since before the start of the Chicano social protest movement (Garcia, 1997). Historically, as Mexican American women and men started working towards equal rights, Chicana women have experienced marginalization because of their voice and gender status. Additionally, queer Chicana women, or women that identify within the LGBTQ+ communities, have been oppressed within the Chicana feminist movement. Minimal research has been performed on the positive psychological identity development of Queer Chicana women. By using a mixed methods approach to challenge general ideas around the LGBTQ+ community and wellbeing, this research seeks ways to serve diverse ethnic and sexual minorities. Highlighting Chicana women's experiences around sexism, culture, and religion, I will be performing in-depth interviews on LGBTQ+/Queer Chicana women that attend Eastern Washington University. As I continue to conduct interviews, I predict that my analysis will bring greater visibility to Queer Chicana women and the diverse ways in which they construct their sex and gender identities. Their narratives will contribute to enriching current understandings of the multiple and complex ways that Queer Chicanas in the United States frame selfhood.

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