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Social Sciences Student's Research Lands Library Award

By Samantha Boden

As a social sciences major with an interest in mental health, David Magallanes Cortes’ curiosity was piqued when he discovered that Latino college students are more likely to report mental health benefits from using Cal State San Marcos’ Cougar Pantry than any other racial group.  

To understand the reasoning behind this report, Cortes conducted empirical research examining important aspects of Latino wellness such as food and culture, sense of belonging and mental health treatment.  

“I wanted to further explore what made the Cougar Pantry such a great resource on campus,”  Cortes said. “And I wanted my research to be relevant to myself and my community.” 

His hard work paid off when he was announced as one of six winners of the 2022-23 CSUSM Library Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity award, which comes with a $600 cash prize for each recipient. 

“It is inspiring to see the work that our students are doing here at CSUSM,” said Rosa Rodriguez, CSUSM’s award chair and outreach librarian. "I am proud of our awardees and all those who submitted their amazing research and creative works.”  

Cortes was encouraged to apply by sociology professor Jill Weigt as this was an excellent opportunity to showcase his research and expand his professional experience.  

The library helped with his research process by providing access to the databases and resources on how to correctly write citations, literature reviews, abstracts and narrow down research questions. And there was one other advantage. 

“Everything was free,” he said.  

Cortes’ paper details that understanding the mechanisms beneath the reasons why Latinos reported mental health benefits from using the pantry can provide the university with information that can help it better support students. 


Other winners 

Creative works category 

Submission: Photographic Reflections on Landscape, Post-Colonial Society and Colonial Artifacts 

Student: Ken Waddy 

Program: Art, Media, and Design 

Adviser: Nancy diBenedetto 

Summary: This photobook highlights landscape, focusing on Rancho Guajome Adobe, the location of a settler colonial project that was built on the servitude of the Payómkawichum people (native to California). The photos reflect the different factors of settler colonialism, most notably how all of the subjects are a product of the process erasing and replacing.  


Submission: “Triggers” 

Student: Kelly Ibarra Perez 

Program: Art, Media, and Design 

Adviser: Siobhan Arnold 

Summary: “Triggers” (Transeúnte) is a short film that conveys how living somewhere between two places feels, physically and mentally. As an immigrant and a first-generation Mexican daughter, Perez portrays the relationship with her family and roots, and the distance between herself and her memory of home. 


Empirical research category 

Submission: Altruism and Mindfulness in Prosocial Helping Behavior 

Student: Alyssa Hudkins 

Program: Psychology 

Adviser: Virginia Tasulis 

Summary: This study’s results reveal how participants with higher mindfulness rates did not show significantly higher altruistic tendencies, and participants who rated themselves higher in altruism were not statistically more likely to help others in a high-risk situation.  


Submission: ‘Don't Jew Me’: How Antisemitism is Expressed, Experienced, and Ultimately Challenged 

Student: Eric Wilsker 

Program: Sociology 

Adviser: Mary Roche 

Summary: Through interviews, an in-depth literature review and a content analysis of items from contemporary American culture, this paper examines how Jewish people experience antisemitism, how antisemitism is expressed through various social mechanisms and a means by which antisemitism may be challenged.  


Interpretive analysis category 

Submission: Engendering Binaries: The Transhistorical Experiences of Catalina de Erauso 

Student: Hugo Daniel Peralta-Ramirez 

Program: History 

Adviser: Miriam Riggs 

Summary: This paper examines the crossdressing Basque Monja Alferéz Catalina de Erauso to demonstrate how gender performance iconography and symbolism are rooted in the way people experience and interact with Erauso and their performance within the archetypal standards of their contexts.  

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