Jadrien Gonzalez

Associate in Arts & Associate in Science

As Jadrien Gonzalez considered how to pursue his dream of becoming a psychiatrist, the Zillah native decided Yakima Valley College was the right place to take his first step after high school.

“When thinking about my college path, I wanted to be mindful of the finances that were involved,” stated Gonzalez. “When I compared the price of attending YVC, I realized I could get the first two years of college completed without having to spend the tuition of a 4-year university.”

From the time he arrived at YVC, Gonzalez got involved in campus activities, serving the Pre-Med Club as its vice president and later president. While participating in the club he worked on fundraising, community service projects and organizing informational presentations about the medical school application process for other students on campus. He was also a member of the Chemistry Club and participated in activities such as a club-sponsored trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Gonzalez was also able to make valuable connections through YVC’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. MESA works to help improve retention in STEM fields, with an emphasis on traditionally underrepresented students, by supporting opportunities for academic enrichment and professional development.

One of those opportunities was working with YVC Psychology Instructor Heidi Shaw and other students on a research project. The project involved looking at excerpts from Central Washington University’s study of chimpanzees that learned sign language. The team compared these excerpts to human behaviors and development to identify similarities between the two. This project gave Gonzalez experience and a foundation of how to do a research project.

In 2017 he earned his associate in arts degree as well as an associate in science degree before transferring to the University of Washington (UW). Gonzalez credits YVC’s program for getting him ready to transfer and continue his education.

“This combination of degrees allowed me to have both my core degree requirements and some prerequisites needed to apply to a health-related graduate program before transferring to UW,” he continued. “I really liked the teachers that I worked with at YVC. Since it was a smaller class size, I was able to develop close relationships with some of my peers as well as with the faculty. It is a much more intimate experience when compared to general introductory courses in a university setting.”

Thanks to his experience at YVC, Gonzalez also was able to continue his involvement in psychology research at UW.

“I‘ve worked on a research study that examined racial biases in children and another research project identifying and removing personal biases in the UW School of Medicine curriculum,” he said.

After graduating from UW in 2019, Gonzalez began working as a behavioral technician working with adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Later he began working at Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Psychiatry Department as a pediatric mental health specialist. He is also involved with a UW School of Medicine research project. In 2022 he plans to apply to medical school and hopes to  become a psychiatrist.