When she came to ASU in 2016, Capielo knew she wanted to create something like that here. It started slowly, with one student, then two — today, the PLENA (Psicología Latinx en Accíon) Lab has grown to 15 students, representing undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students.
As was true of Capielo’s group at the University of Georgia, the PLENA Lab serves as a space for psychology students researching issues of multiculturalism and Latino psychology to network, collaborate and support one another.
Loiza DeJesus, a first-year PhD student in counseling psychology, first learned about Capielo, her work and the PLENA Lab at a National LatinxLatinx is a gender-neutral replacement for Latino preferred by some individuals and groups. Psychological Association conference a few years ago.
“I spent like two years doing everything that I could to get into this lab,” said DeJesus, who is also of Puerto Rican descent but hails from Chicago, where she received her master’s degree from Roosevelt University.
“I was very specifically looking for somebody doing work with Puerto Ricans, which is very rare. I could probably count on one hand the number of Puerto Ricans in the field who are doing this kind of work. But Latinx psychology researchers in general are still incredibly rare.”
The nature of Capielo’s research stems from her own experience.
“When my family moved here, we thought that as Puerto Ricans, because we were U.S. citizens, it would be easy to adjust,” Capielo said. “We thought my parents would be able to find jobs commensurate to their education and experience, and that my sister and I would transition smoothly into school. It was not that way.”
Instead, Capielo recalled, they experienced racism, difficulty finding employment and navigating the school system, and a host of psychological issues as a result. As she began to meet other Latino immigrants whose stories were similar to hers, she became determined to get to the root of the cause.
“What I kept finding in my own data and learning from other scholars is that these persistent health disparities — and as a result, a person’s overall well-being — are inextricably connected to socio-political factors,” …….