Colorado State University - Pueblo Homeland Security student wins summer competition

Colorado State University - Pueblo Homeland Security student wins summer competition

PUEBLO – A Colorado State University-Pueblo student spent the summer in El Paso, Texas researching at the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI) with faculty from the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) and returned to classes this fall as the winner of both a national poster competition and a trip to Washington, D.C. next spring.

Josh Luna, Middle, Middle RowCSU-Pueblo junior Josh Luna (Pueblo, political science major) was one of 12 undergraduates selected to participate in the 2011 Homeland Security Summer Scholars Academy, a 10-week research program at UTEP that included a $4,000 stipend as well as food and living expenses. Through NCBSI, Luna experienced field engagements with  Customs and Border Pro

tection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as well as a couple of Immigration Advocacy Law Centers that helped him understand the various job opportunities available in the homeland security field.
Scholars were paired with a faculty research mentor to work cooperatively on the research project selected for the 10-week period that May 31-Aug. 5. Under the tutelage of Dr. Ashley Bangert, professor of psychology at UTEP, Luna researched optimal schedules of practice to help older adults better prepare for the naturalization exam for citizenship.  Luna and Bangert studied the ideal techniques and schedules of study for improving older adults' memory for novel materials similar to those encountered on the naturalization exam for U.S. citizenship (e.g. second language vocabulary, facts about government and history).  Luna said the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has noted that that the failure rate on the exam increases significantly for individuals over the age of 65.

“My hope is that the research will inform the training methodologies used in citizenship and English as a Second Language classes to help older adults prepare for the naturalization exam in order to obtain U.S. citizenship,” he said.

As part of the Summer Scholars Academy, students competed in a poster contest describing their research projects. On the final day of the program, students gave a 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges comprising of field agents from CBP, TSA, ICE, FBI, and two UTEP professors.  Luna’s poster ranked highest, earning him a trip to the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Networking Summit next spring in Washington, D.C. The only complication for Luna’s trip to the nation’s capital could be that he is spending the spring 2012 semester studying abroad in Spain.

Photographs of the scholars and their experiences may be found at:

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