Exploring how poverty affects brain development
There was a point during Gabriel Reyes’s sophomore year at Brown when they considered dropping out, frustrated by academic struggles and plagued by self-doubt. “No amount of hard work resulted in the outcomes I wanted,” says Reyes.
Then they spent a semester abroad in Denmark, and everything changed. “All of the things I had worried about – not being smart enough and so on – went away because I was happy,” Reyes says. “And I began to think about how environment affects how we learn.”
That question continues to animate Reyes’s research interests. An incoming doctoral student in the GSE’s program in Developmental and Psychological Sciences, Reyes wants to explore how the stressors associated with poverty affect brain development, and perhaps unlock strategies to help underprivileged students.
“We should not live in a world where marginalized communities rely on luck to pursue their dreams,” Reyes wrote on Twitter after being named to the 2021 cohort of Stanford’s Knight-Hennessey Scholars.
By “luck,” Reyes means situations in which students find a champion to advocate on their behalf, while others just as deserving aren’t as fortunate. “There were people who believed in me and took a chance on me,” Reyes says. “That is not always the case.”