Date of Graduation

Summer 8-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Dr. Michelle Montagno

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias

Third Advisor

Dr. Albert Meza


College students who identify as a person of color and are also the first person in their family to attend college must navigate challenges related to white supremacy, institutional racism, and structural inequality. Though the amount of research on first-generation college students of color is steadily increasing, there remains a lack of research on the mental health of these students. Through an intersectional approach, the current study explored the mental health of first-generation college students of color during their sophomore year of college. Participants in the current study completed questionnaires related to psychological symptoms, experiences of racial/ethnic stress, and ethnic identity. Data was collected in the winter of 2022 from 150 participants attending the University of San Francisco. Results revealed experiencing racial/ethnic stress related to worse mental health of students of color; however, first-generation college students did not report worse mental health compared to continuing-generation college students, and students who identified as both a first-generation college student and a student of color did not report worse mental health compared to students who identified as only one of these identities. Results revealed a strong ethnic identity did not serve as a buffer against mental health issues for college students of color. This study’s findings highlight the need for clinicians who work with college students of color to assess for and, if applicable treat, racial/ ethnic stress.