Gequasha Collins, B.S.

RESEARCH FOCI: Severe Mental Illness, Stigma & Health Inequities, Emerging Adults, Racial/ Ethnic Minorities

GQ entered the Applied Social & Cultural Psychology Doctoral program in Fall 2021. Her major professor is Dr. Dionne Stephens. GQ earned her B.S. in Neurosciences and Spanish from the University of San Diego. She also completed post-baccalaureate training funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the University of Kansas prior to starting her doctoral degree.

GQ's research interests include severe mental illness in racial/ ethnic minority communities, social stigma and health inequities. For more information about her research, please email GQ directly.

View GQ's Digital Portfolio

About GQ

GQ is proud to be a first-generation student and hopes to serve as a mentor, especially to students with similar backgrounds. At the University of San Diego, GQ majored in both Neuroscience and Spanish, amassing a unique set of skills that have allowed her to engage and share knowledge with diverse communities on a global scale. As a McNair Scholar, GQ was able to develop a project exploring the unique experiences of Black women in Spain. This experience solidified GQ’s interest in psychological science.

GQ’s diverse experiences and knowledge of the Spanish language and culture have allowed her to serve in various capacities, from leading her own project in a Neuroscience lab to working with the prominent organization Al Otro Lado (an organization committed to serving asylum seekers, migrants, and deportees at the US-México border). These experiences have inspired GQ to conduct research that prioritizes the importance of diversity, culture, and understanding the role of these and other factors in health disparities.

GQ's Research Foci

GQ's research examines the roles of race, culture, and stigma in the construction of severe mental illness perceptions. She is interested in better understanding how cultural scripts impact mental health outcomes in diverse communities. GQ approaches her research from a lens of intersectionality and uses mixed methods. She hopes to identify risks and protective factors that impact mental health attitudes and perceptions in diverse populations. From this, she hopes to address inequities in help-seeking and other mental health outcomes, with the ultimate goal of alleviating disparities. 

GQ is currently collecting data for her master's thesis titled, Severe Mental Illness Perceptions in Emerging Adults. This study will aid in understanding the various factors that shape severe mental illness perceptions for Emerging Adults.

GQ's Awards & Honors

Florida International University Inclusion Fellowship (2021- 2025)
Institutional Tuition & Stipend Fellowship for Outstanding Doctoral Students.

Department of Psychology SEEDS Research Grant Award (2023)
Examining Black and Hispanic Families Experiences & Perceptions of Severe Mental Illness (SMI)

SACNAS: Cultivate Diversity in STEM Education & Fields Award (2022)
National Conference Travel Award

Gates Millennium Scholar (2015- 2021)
Outstanding academic leadership and civic engagement

Ronald E. McNair Scholar (2018- 2021)
Awarded to high-achieving undergraduates committed to pursuing a graduate degree

GQ's Research Video

GQ's Recent Work


Hales, J. B., Petty, E. A., Collins, G., & Blaser, R. E. (2021). Contribution of the hippocampus to performance on the traveling salesperson problem in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 405, 113177.

Research Conferences

Collins, G. & Stephens, D. P. (2022, October). Afro Latina Identity and Social Justice Movements. Poster presentation at the National Latinx Psychological Association (NLPA) Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado.

Collins, G., Stephens, D. P., Thomas, Z. Matos, N., & Baker, R. (2022, June). Afro-Latina Identity: Perceptions of Inclusion and Affinity to Social Movements. Poster presented for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Conference. San Juan, PR.

Collins, G. & Wanic, R. (2020). Morenas en España: Discrimination and Prejudice during Study Abroad for College- Aged Black Women in Spain. Presented poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS- Virtual).

Collins, G. & Wanic, R. (2019). The Experience of Black College Aged Women in Spain. Presented oral presentation at The University of San Diego 2019 Summer Research Conference, San Diego, CA.

Petty, E.A., Collins, G., Paul, J., Long-Iyer, K. Blaser, R. & Hales, J.B. (2018). Effect of hippocampal lesions in rats on the Traveling Salesman Problem. Presented poster at the Society for Neuroscience FUN session, 2018, San Diego, CA.

Collins, G.B., Petty, E.A., Abouchedid, D. & Hales, J.B (2018). The Role of Memory in Solving the Traveling Salesman Problem in Rats and the Effect of Hippocampal Lesions in Rats. Presented oral presentation at The University of San Diego 2018 Summer Research Conference, San Diego, CA.


A voice for Black Miami, FIU professor embarks on his final tour. (February 2022). FIU News.

GQ's Research Projects

To view research projects that GQ has taken a leadership role in developing and/ or implementing, please visit our Current Research and Completed Research study pages.

Current Research

Severe mental illness symptoms typically first occur in the second decade of individuals' lives. This quantiative study will examine emerging adults' perceptions of severe mental illness symptoms and culturally informed response motivations.


Mental health stigmas are often informed by familial and cultural values. The experiences of LatinX individuals whose close family members have severe mental illness will be examined in this qualitative research study.