Dr. Rafael Hernández, Assistant Professor of Human Development since 2014, earned his B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from University of California Santa Barbara. His research interests include institutional and interpersonal racism experienced as microaggressions, collectivistic and problem-focused coping responses, ethnic identity, and how these factors impact Chicanx/Latinx mental health and college persistence. His scholarly work informs his efforts to foster culturally validating communities in college that empower students to overcome obstacles, achieve their goals in higher education, and develop as critically conscious agents of social change. In collaboration with Marisol Clark-Ibáñez (Sociology Professor), Leo Melena (Director of Student Success, CHABSS), and Leandro Galaz (Social Work Lecturer), he developed the F.U.E.RZA peer-mentoring program as part of the Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO) Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) grant at CSUSM. In the classroom, his students engage in experiential learning activities and discussions that aim to facilitate critical thinking and practical application of developmental perspectives. He strives to nurture his students’ creativity, encourage them to question assumptions, and develop their abilities to help people, families, and communities to thrive.