(Carson, CA) California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Assistant Professor of Sociology Joanna Perez has been named a Career Enhancement Fellow by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Perez is the first CSUDH faculty member to receive this prestigious award.
Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Career Enhancement Fellowship creates career development opportunities for selected faculty fellows with promising research projects. In addition to a $30,000 grant, the award includes a stipend for research and travel or a publication. The program also provides mentoring to the recipient and participation in a late summer professional development retreat.
Perez is one of 32 fellows selected nationwide for this year’s grant and one of 10 junior faculty members who received 12-month fellowships.
“For over 10 years, I have focused on the experiences of Latino undocuactivists, which I define as undocumented immigrant young adult activists who no longer live in the shadows due to their lack of legal status and fight for immigrant rights by actively challenging structural inequality and oppressive social relations. This fellowship now gives me the opportunity to bridge the research that I have been doing both before I started teaching at Dominguez Hills and currently at the university,” said Perez, who joined the CSUDH Department of Sociology in 2016.
The Career Enhancement Fellowship seeks particularly to increase the presence of junior faculty members who are underrepresented in their fields, as well as other faculty members committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields in the arts and humanities. The fellowship provides pre-tenured faculty, like Perez, with a sabbatical and the resources to publish research, which will advance their careers. One of the projects Perez will be working on is a book.
“My research focuses on the ways that undocumented young adults use activism to contest their illegality both during the Obama and Trump era,” said Perez about her proposed book.
“While there is a vast amount of literature documenting the educational experiences of Latino and undocumented students, particularly Dreamers—those who would benefit from the Dream Act—there is limited research on the ways that Latino undocuactivists use their agency to push legal boundaries, reimagine a sense of belonging, and create social change despite living in an anti-immigrant landscape.”
Perez is an avid mentor for current CSUDH students. As a Latina, daughter of immigrants, and first-generation student/professor, she strives to use her positionality to address the needs of her students, many of whom share similar backgrounds.
“When there is approximately 1 percent Latino faculty in the nation, getting this fellowship is not only significant for my career, but also serves to diversify the faculty who have a greater chance of achieving tenure and promotion. My hope is that through this fellowship, I will publish research that is driven by social justice, as I strive to create social change.”