Latinos are the second most common ethnicity getting masters degrees
Ricardo Mogo has earned a master's degree in school psychology. Learn about his journey in the field.
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Ricardo Mogo Acevedo is among the group of Hispanics with a master’s degree in the country. He just finished a master’s degree in School Psychology and will begin his doctorate’s in the same field in the fall.
Born in Venezuela, he moved to the United States — more specifically Florida — around the age of 3. For being a first generation immigrant, he always felt that it was expected for him to achieve huge things. Pursuing and doing more than just a bachelor’s degree has been with him since early on.
Almost 19% of masters degrees in 2021 were of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, according to Zippia — only behind white, 61.7%. Just like for Mogo, a variety of challenges and experiences regarding culture, identity, career opportunities and more are in the way of these people who have successfully earned their qualifications.
Mogo moved a couple of times during his childhood and teenage years. Even though he lived in areas and attended schools with some kind of diversity, they were mostly white. He always felt “very Hispanic” because his parents preserved their language and culture at home. He felt he identified with his roots, especially when surrounded by people who didn’t look like him.
However, in school it was totally different. Classmates would pick on him whenever he would share about his culture, food or music. It was different, it was weird for them. Mogo had to learn to adapt to his different worlds.
“At home my parents did a really good job of maintaining our culture but I couldn't be how I was at home in public,” he said. “And then I couldn't be how I was in public at home. That was difficult.”
Mogo attended the University of Central Florida (UCF), in Orlando, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Statistics. While he had more social contact with Latinos in college, the expectations for him in Hispanic related activities were higher. As the only Latino in Spanish class, for example, his bar was set high — making it a challenging experience for him.
After he graduated, in 2016, Mogo moved to Canada to work in the psychology field. After a year, he realized he couldn’t do much with just a bachelor's degree in the field, so he decided to go back to school.
According to the U.S. Census, only 19.7% of Latinos had a bachelor’s degree or higher in the United States, in 2021 — compared to 56% Asian, 38% White, and 25% Black.
He initially wanted to go clinical and become a doctor, but during an opportunity in school, teaching social emotional skills to children, he learned about school psychology and decided to stick with it. Conversations with professors who were part of the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) programs allowed him to realize his importance in that kind of environment.
“I need to be there for kids like me,” he said. “If I had someone like me in my field at my schools, maybe I would be so much better off.”
When he moved to Miami to pursue his masters, he was hit with another cultural challenge: “how not Spanish he is.”
“In a community that is very white, I stand out. I’m very ethnic and exotic,” he added. “In a primarily Latino/Hispanic community, I am more gringo than anything else.”
Although Miami was a cultural shock with him, the field Mogo was going into had very little to no Hispanic or Latino representation — both in undergraduate and graduate programs. He credits it to the stigma around psychology and mental health, and the lack of terminology education among the Latino community about what is a mental health concern, problem, disorder and other variations — who chop it up to bad vibes, religion, or nerves, he said.
Described by Mogo as a white female monolingual field, psychology needs representation. One of the benefits he gets from being Latino is the connection he is able to make with bilingual kids — as he seems more approachable, considering their similar culture and background.
For the future, Mogo wants to be as useful as possible to his community. With master’s and doctorate’s degrees, he will be able to serve as a model for many children who are still unsure about what they are capable of.
“I hope to be in schools where my representation is needed,” he concluded.