Since waiting tables at age 17, junior Jake Xie has loved hearing people’s stories. Xie, a psychology major who grew up in Bensonhurst, is intrigued by human behavior. After working as a camp counselor at the YMCA, he realized that he wanted to focus his studies on children and help them develop emotional skills.

Xie is a Tow mentee who has been researching alongside Assistant Professor Yana Kuchirko about how White parents socialize their children to understand race. Though the research is still evolving, he is laying the foundation for uncovering how racial biases get passed down from parent to child.

We sat down with Xie to get to know him better.

What drew you to research?

I like hearing people’s stories. My dad used to tell me about how when he first immigrated here from China, he helped run a Chinese restaurant with my grandpa and two aunts. One day they got held up at gunpoint and robbed. It’s a crazy story to me. I’ve never seen a gun in my life. It’s what made me curious about what else he and my family did before I was born. I used to be shy until I started working at a sushi restaurant in high school, which made me realize that I love getting to know people. That’s a big part of qualitative research. I think that hearing people’s stories is a catalyst for change.

Why did you want to be part of this research team?

I’ve always wanted to work with kids. I used to be a summer camp counselor at the YMCA. I learned that kids are really smart, which people don’t give them credit for. I just think they’re fascinating creatures, and also very emotional, which is something I’m drawn to. The research focuses on how parents socialize their children to understand race. We’ve been observing parents and kids and studying their emotions, which has been exciting.

What are you most proud of?

It’s sort of a spiritual thing. I’ve been trying to live life day by day and appreciate the small things. When my grandma had a stroke and had to learn how to walk again, I’d come home after school and sit with her and talk to her. I’m most proud of developing that mindset and learning to appreciate the little things.

How would you describe your college experience?

I love Brooklyn College. You get off the bus and you see the trees and everything is so nice. The mix of people is very interesting. It’s one of the only places where you can sit down and the person next to you is a 62-year-old barber and then someone in your class is a bus driver who just got off his shift.

I’m a Macaulay Honors College student and I’ve gotten a lot out of that and my Tow mentorship. Before the Tow Mentorship Program, I didn’t know what to do. Professor Tammy Lewis is the director of the program. She encouraged me to take some cool classes and think about studying abroad and graduate school.

What’s most important to you?
Family is really important to me. We all live together and have always been very close. Family is a huge system, and it goes both ways. In the dynamic interactions between parent and child, wisdom doesn’t just go from the parent to the kid—the child also gives important insights that inevitably help them both learn.

Where do you imagine yourself in the future?

I’m still figuring it out, but I’ve been looking into school psychology master’s degrees—including Brooklyn College’s program—because I want to help kids develop emotional skills and give them mental health resources at school. I’m also considering someday doing a developmental psychology Ph.D. program. Besides school, I want to stay close to my family but also work to live independently soon. I’m taking it one step at a time.