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Post-Bac Fellow, Diego Basaldu

This month we are spotlighting one of our Post-Baccalaureate Research and Teaching Fellows, Diego Basaldu. Basaldu is a recent 2022 UIC Psch Alumnus who has rejoined us in the department as a Teaching Associate and working under the guidance of Dr. Margaret "Megin" Wardle.

D. Basaldu

[TT] Diego! It’s so wonderful to sit and chat with you! The semester is quite busy, so why don’t we jump right in?

[DB] Sure thing!

[TT] What attracted you to UIC?

[DB] So, I am originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. The weather down there is very hot and unbearable, and I needed to go somewhere cool. I also have family up here in Chicago, so I mainly applied to different universities up here, and UIC was the best option for me financially since they offered me a scholarship.

[TT] Wow, Texas! What was the transition like, moving?

[DB] It was very free going from kind of a small town to a big city. I explored a lot. I was very adventurous, but when I first got here, I wasn’t very social. I didn’t really try to meet anyone or have any friends, so I was mainly by myself exploring the city. Eventually I opened up more, met people, and then I found out about more different locations in the city.

[TT] How did you begin meeting people?

[DB] Well, I love music. I mean I am obsessed with music. I joined UIC Radio as a freshman and made only one friend at the time, Brittany [Kinlow], may she rest in peace. She was the first friend I made in college, and eventually I began connecting with other members of UIC radio. Most of my friends now are from UIC radio. I stay connected with them and still write a few blogs for them every now and then when I’m not loving my life as a post-bac.

[TT] Can you tell me, what led you to select Psychology as your major?

[DB] I was always interested in psychology. It started when I was little, watching Batman (R.I.P. Kevin Conroy) and all the villains he’d send to Arkham. I became interested in psychopathology, then psychology in general, and by High School I was obsessed. I would read books relating to psychology, and it nurtured my obsession, but in a good way, to the point it’s now become my path for a career. I always loved being able to understand individuals and recognize that everyone deserves empathy, patience and understanding.

[TT] How did you begin getting involved in departmental research and connecting with faculty?

[DB] I started by reaching out to my Psch 100 professor during my freshman year who recommended I look up faculty on the website to learn more about their research. I found a few people, looked at the list of courses and instructors, and went door-to-door throughout the department introducing myself, asking about their research, sharing my interests, and asking for tips. I did not land a research assistantship my freshman year, but during my sophomore year I worked in a Spider Lab. Working in the lab was very eye-opening. It helped me find love in research. At first, I was only doing it so my application could look good, but eventually it became fun. I would go to my lab, examine spiders, and code them. Unfortunately, I only worked in this lab for one semester because the research moved to the Field Museum, and I wasn’t granted access to the lower archive levels.

[TT] Once this research assistantship ended, what did you do?

[DB] The following semester, I took Psch 270 with Dr. Julia Kim-Cohen who was requesting research assistants for creating a new scale of measurement. I was one of a handful of research assistants working on creating a new scale, but eventually I was the only one left. Dr. Kim-Cohen received a grant from the Office of Sustainability for the research, so I was paid to continue working on it and to create the scale. Unfortunately, due to COVID and other personal challenges I was unable to complete the research.

[TT] Why did you choose to apply to the Post-Bac program?

[DB] I was in my last semester of undergrad. I was panicky and knew I had research experience, but none to completion, so I started applying to research labs. I remembered Dr. Wardle from Junior year who taught PSCH 333, and she is an amazing instructor, and I knew I could approach her with questions. She mentioned the Post-Bac program, which I had no idea what it was or anything. She explained I would be able to work as a teaching assistant and complete research for a lab. She said she would sponsor me and asked me about my interests. At the time I was still unsure what I was interested in, but now I can say I’m interested in looking at the motivation of individuals, and how much effort they exert with specific populations, such as individuals with sleep-wake disorders, or substance related disorders. Overall, I want to explore ways to measure and interpret motivation and what kind of interventions we can use to improve an individuals’ abilities to exert effort on either specific tasks or challenges in life.

[TT] You have now been in the program for one semester. How would you say the program is helping you to develop?

[DB] It has helped me to develop necessary skills I could not harness during my undergrad experiences, and I have come to understand that I am not alone. I have my mentor, my lab cohorts, the teaching assistant support group, grad students and the other post-bac fellows who have provided great assistance in my growth as an aspiring clinical psychologist. As well as personal growth in myself, most especially with being more social.

[TT] you mind sharing what your plans are once you complete the fellowship?

[DB] I plan to attend grad school. I am not sure where or when at the moment, but it is in the plan.

[TT] Last question. Would you share a fun fact or hobby?

[DB] I play bass, collect records and read religiously. I really like to read the 33 1/3 book series. It goes well with my music obsession. My favorite of the series that I’ve read is about “Kid A,” written by Marvin Lin. I’m a bit biased since “Kid A” is my favorite Radiohead album.

Thank you, Diego, for agreeing to be our Post-Bac Fellow spotlight for this month! We are looking forward to seeing what you accomplish!