Tackling Mental Health through Psychology at Cal State LA Downtown

Cal State LA Downtown Student Marvin Vasquez smiles. He is wearing a dark green jacket and has a backpack on his arm.It was while taking a general education class in psychology at Los Angeles Valley Community College that Marvin Vasquez first realized just how interesting the field of psychology was. His curiosity was so strong that he enrolled in additional classes. “I always excelled with numbers and assumed that I would ultimately obtain a degree in business,” says Marvin. “But the more psychology classes I took, the more I wanted to learn and understand mental health conditions, especially because one of my family members is living with schizophrenia.”

His expanding knowledge of, and interest in the field of psychology led Marvin to research Bachelor of Arts degree programs in psychology that were also convenient to his two jobs and to North Hollywood, where he lives. Holding down jobs as a restaurant server, and a freelance commercial and theatrical actor, Marvin found the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Program at Cal State LA Downtown to be the best fit for his busy schedule. He was especially happy to learn that the program had an option for him to begin his studies sooner, during the spring semester, as opposed to waiting for the fall.

Though the coursework is difficult at times, Marvin is especially happy that intimate classes allow him to spend more time with his professors. “Everyone at Cal State LA Downtown is friendly, especially the faculty who take the time to guide students, even with career planning,” says Marvin. Marvin also utilizes the University Writing Center for assistance with his writing skills and the study rooms to prepare for exams or group presentations. “I think my favorite resource so far has been the therapy dogs and cats brought to campus to help students cope with stress during finals.”

Because of the support of his parents and siblings, as well as self-determination, Marvin will be the first person in his family to receive a bachelor’s degree. “So far, I am happy with my decision to study psychology and may look into obtaining an advanced degree as well.”

Although Marvin’s career goal is unclear at this point, he knows there will be many opportunities to apply what he has learned to help some of the millions of Americans struggling with mental health conditions every year. Faced with family hardships in recent years, Marvin is now confidently on track toward realizing his full potential, personally and professionally.