Research Projects

ACSUS (Academic and Career Socialization for Underrepresented Students), Lead-Principle Investigator

ACSUS began in 2014 and is a longitudinal study (with co-PIs Rachelle Winkle-Wagner, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dorian L. McCoy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville) examining the academic and career socialization experiences of Students of Color in higher education. This study explores how one program, Project Scholar, supports Students of Color in developing competencies for success in education, exposes students to undergraduate research, and creates a space where students maintain their cultural identities as part of their scholarly pursuits. This study examines the role of Project Scholar in fostering students’ dispositions towards career and graduate school aspirations. Interviews were conducted with a cohort of students, program staff and program alumni. This study is funded by a seed grant from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.


Undocumented Students in Higher Education (USHE), Principle Investigator

USHE aims to gain a greater understanding of how American educational institutions are responding to the number of undocumented Latina/o/x students matriculating to and attending college. I am particularly interested in examining how institutional policies and practices impact the collegiate experiences of undocumented students in a myriad ways, particularly as it relates to career preparation and planning. This study seeks to understand the experiences of these students in higher education in the Midwest. This study seeks to examine how the legal and social constraints of being undocumented affect how Latina/o/x students think about their career choice, planning, socialization, preparation and career trajectory in anticipation of the transition to the labor market during college. It also seeks to examine the extent that institutional policies (formalized or tacit) support or hinder access to resources for Latina/o/x undocumented students (as compared to their documented peers).  This study is funded by NASPA Region IX-East Research and Assessment Grant-Research Team Award and the Faculty Initiative for Research/Scholarly/Creative Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater


“We Lift as We Climb”: Supporting First-Generation Students of Color Navigating College, Principle Investigator

The “We Lift as We Climb” study seeks to understand how significant relationships support first-generation Students of Color in higher education. Findings are two-fold, first examining the vital roles of family, peers, and staff and administrators of Color who supported students in accessing and persisting through college, and also, the ways in which participants were actively engaged in role-modeling and mentoring others to pursue higher education. I draw on findings from this research to question contemporary modes of thinking about student success. Students in this study define success not by their own achievements, but rather, by how many others they assist in pursuing a similar path. My scholarship with Students of Color highlights the centrality of communalism and shared success.