Nicole A. Perez (Ph.D., Sociology, University of Notre Dame) previously served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Office of Student Affairs Assessment and Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). There her research focused on student success initiatives to understand and improve the retention and graduation rates across UIC. In addition to conducting institutional research that examined which students were on track to graduate from UIC within six years, Nicole led a research project that utilized qualitative data of primarily Black and Latinx first-year students that stopped-out of UIC to further understand the interrelated and precarious role of finances. This paper was published at Race Ethnicity and Education. Currently, she is working on a project that focuses on the identities of Latinx leaders that are involved with STEM pipeline programs to increase access and persistence among Latinx students. She has also contributed to numerous projects that center on the role of family throughout student’s postsecondary experiences.
Nicole’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of education, race and ethnicity, immigration, and social inequality. Based on her dissertation research she theorized the significance of ethnoracial identity formation processes and racialized immigrant incorporation in an article published in Ethnic and Racial Studies. Through this paper, she demonstrated how there is heterogeneity in how young Latina/os come to understand and enact their “Latinidad” through formative educational systems and across the life course. Although all respondents were “coming of age” in the same localized community, she found that changes in the national legal context via Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) mattered for inclusion and as result, shifts in Latinx identities.
Nicole is very excited about her new disciplinary transition to the Department of Medical Education (DME) at UIC. As a trained sociologist, she looks forward to applying frameworks and theories rooted in the sociology of race and ethnicity to medical education. A subset of undocumented respondents from her dissertation was in the health professions and through future research, she plans to understand how they navigate intersectional identities throughout their personal and professional lives. In addition to contributing to the interdisciplinary DME, she also looks forward to research opportunities at the Hispanic Center of Excellence.