Research Summary

As a feminist community-based researcher and activist scholar, my research trajectory draws from critical social theory, ecological systems theory, a sociocultural view of development, migration scholarship, cultural assets frameworks, ethnographic and critical participatory action research (PAR) approaches.My research focuses on the following: 1)Ethnic/racialized and learner identities, 2)Family-community-school partnerships, 3)Teacher education and praxis, 4)PAR with young people.


  • Ph.D. , Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Project: ¿Derecho u Obligación?: Parents' and Youths' Understanding of Parental Legitimacy in a Mexican Origin Familial Context
  • Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education, Department of Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University
  • Teaching Credential: Bilingual Cross-Cultural Lang & Academic Dev, College of Education, California State University, San Marcos. Project: Bilingual Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Multiple subjects: Language Arts and Social Studies
  • B.A. , LIberal Arts Minor: Spanish, California State University, San Marcos


My experience as a first generation Purépecha Xicana who entered US schools as a monolingual Spanish speaker, and grew up in a working-poor household along the San Diego-Tijuana border informs my work as a researcher and educator. I grew up in a mixed-status family, and know what it is like to navigate poor urban K-12 public schools and elite institutions of higher education. These experiences have shaped my research agenda, and have established my commitments to teaching and service in order to improve the access and quality of education for historically marginalized young people and their families who have often been excluded from the education system. In particular, my research focuses on undocumented young people, and especially those who have been racially profiled and tracked as “illegal within schools. As a feminist community-based research scholar, activist, teacher, facilitator, and community member, I am committed to the intersectionalities of the ideals of educación, familismo and overall community well-being particularly as these pertain to equitable educational opportunities to pursue higher education. Institutions of higher education are in need of revising the way(s) we build sustainable and reciprocal bridges with historically marginalized communities of color—in particular, Latina/o immigrants who are undocumented. As a Latina professor, I teach and mentor students of linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds, including first generation college students with whom I share common life experiences and who constantly enlighten my research, teaching and service. I conduct research and teaching from a much-needed perspective—historically marginalized young people and families—and my service/community engagement activities also focus on improving educational access for disenfranchised communities.

My research focuses on Latina/o immigration and education. My concentration has several interconnected strands, which include: 1. Latina/o immigrant students and their family’s adjustment and navigational strategies within the U.S. educational system; 2. Family, school, and community-based participatory action research that focus on the ways that marginalized immigrant young people and their families transform engagement with schools; 3. Equitable, just and culturally sustaining (Parish & Alim, 2014) education for preservice and in-service teachers, specifically to support educators who work with students and families of color. My research draws from critical social theory, ecological systems theory, a sociocultural view of development, migration scholarship, cultural assets frameworks, Chicana feminist theory, ethnographic and participatory action research (PAR) approaches.