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UTRGV psychology student to conduct NSF-funded research on trauma this summer

Reymundo Ortiz, a UTRGV psychology student and U.S. Army veteran, will study the effects of PTSD on veterans, this summer at Syracuse University in New York, as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

Reymundo Ortiz, a UTRGV psychology student and U.S. Army veteran, will study the effects of PTSD on veterans, this summer at Syracuse University in New York, as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXAS – MAY 26, 2017 – Reymundo Ortiz is pursuing his dream of helping fellow veterans this summer.

Ortiz, who is studying psychology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is one of about 10 undergraduate students throughout the country who will participate in the National Science Foundation-funded Undergraduate Trauma Research Training Program at Syracuse University in New York from June 5-29.

He will study how post-traumatic stress disorder affects veterans, their families and the communities in which they live. He will continue his research throughout the fall and is expected to present his work at a national or international conference in spring 2018.

Ortiz is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 8788 Honor Guard in McAllen. He served in the U.S. Army for 10 years and is involved in outreach programs that help veterans. He said he became distraught by seeing news reports about veterans who either got into trouble with the law, committed suicide, or were involved in some other unfortunate circumstances.

“I know what veterans go through, I got a very good idea of the thought process and things that drive them to these horrible things, and I needed to do something about it,” he said.

Ortiz enrolled at UTRGV last fall to study psychology, so that he could research the best methods to treat veterans who experienced trauma.

“I need to make a difference,” he said. “I’m not going to leave this world without leaving an indelible mark, as far as helping my military brothers, my brothers in arms … If we can save one person, that’s a lot.”

His mentor, Dr. Ruby Charak, assistant professor of psychological sciences, said she often looks for research opportunities for her students. When she heard about the program – which is an NSF Research for Undergraduates program – she immediately thought this would be a good fit for Ortiz and encouraged him to apply.

“I’ve heard him speak with such passion and commitment about his dedication toward the veterans association, his going out of his way to help veterans – simple things, like housing them and helping them out from his own pocket,” Charak said. “By taking this step, Reymundo has opened the doors not just to the students in my lab, but also to other students at UTRGV. He is an example that we can do it.”

For more information about the research training program, visit http://traumaresearch.syr.edu/.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Jennifer.Berghom@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-665-7192 

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 956-665-2742