Center for Research on Educational Opportunity

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Nicole Perez

CREO Graduate Student

Nicole Perez is a fifth-year graduate student and a Joseph L. Gaia fellow in the Department of Sociology and CREO. Prior to joining the Sociology department, Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies. Nicole’s research interests include education, race and ethnicity, immigration and life course theory.  Her dissertation investigates how Latino adolescents are navigating the transition to postsecondary education, entry to the labor market and general life course transitions within a new immigrant receiving context. The dramatic population growth and redistribution of the U.S. Latino population has disrupted the racial and ethnic landscape in new destination communities, and as a result involves a number of individual and community level implications that warrants further study. Using qualitative methods and drawing on life course theory, she examines how a new Latino immigrant context shapes the transition to adulthood to better understand how Latino young adults navigate educational, labor market, and familial decisions with a particular focus on perceptions of opportunity , mobility, and immigrant incorporation processes.

Another strand of Nicole’s research examines how Latino adolescents navigate the transition to postsecondary education with a focus on how parental preferences for their child to live at home affect application and enrollment decisions.  To support these research endeavors, Nicole was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She is also working with Dr. Amy Langenkamp on similar research that investigates larger ethonoracial differences in how living at home affectes postsecondary trajectories and educational attainment. Throughout this research she hopes to shed light on the educational attainment and achievement of Latina/os amidst a current reality where they are the fastest growing, yet simultaneously least educated major population group in the United States.

A third strand of her research brings together her interest in race, ethnicity and racialization processes within the US Latino population. In a paper collaboration with Dr. Luis R. Fraga, co-director of the Institute for Latino Studies and professor in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, they examine how the presence and diversity of the country’s growing Latino population affect America’s traditional racial hierarchy.  They argue that a necessary and appropriate approach to understand the current and future position of Latinos in American society is to include the ethnoracial hiearachy as an analytical framework. Using data from the Latino National Survey (2006) they find that Latinos engage in a simultaneous  identity choice of strong national origin identification and  panethnic identification. 


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