As an undergrad, Derek became interested in the practical applications of psychological and sociological theories. Through a series of research proposal projects for classes, he discovered an interest in applying these theories to education. Education became a way to understand the position he occupies in society. His interest in research led him to an opportunity to get involved in the Attention Lab at the University of New Mexico Psychology Department run by Dr. Eric Ruthruff. Through this lab work, he gained research experience and was named a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. While conducting his own research project under the mentorship of Dr. Ruthruff he presented his findings at two national McNair conferences. His undergraduate work has taught him that a student’s interaction with their social world highly impacts their opportunities to succeed in the education to career path.