Hidden Burdens: How Social and Educational Experiences Are Shaped by Race and Immigration Status

Colloquium | May 3 | 12-1:30 p.m. | Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Duster Conference Room

 2420 Bowditch Street, Berkeley, CA 94720

 Esther Cho, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley; Kelechi Uwaezuoke, DrPH Candidate, School of Public Health, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

 Bruce Fuller, Professor, Education and Public Policy, UC Berkeley

 Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

ISSI's Graduate Fellows Program presents:

Hidden Burdens: How Social and Educational Experiences Are Shaped by Race and Immigration Status

Esther Cho, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

Kelechi Uwaezuoke, DrPH Candidate, School of Public Health, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

with Bruce Fuller, Professor, Education and Public Policy, UC Berkeley as respondent

Esther Cho | "Practicing Relational Security: Selective Disclosure in Friendships of Korean and Mexican Undocumented Young Adults "

Based on 48 in-depth interviews with Korean and Mexican origin undocumented young adults, this research sheds light on the deep-seated effects of immigration status that reach beyond employment and education and extend into interpersonal relationships. Due to the precariousness of their legal situation, I find that the undocumented young adults exercise agency in strategically disclosing their status (“selective disclosure”) in order to cultivate both affective and material security (“relational security”). Regardless of ethnoracial identity, respondents have similar perceptions of the relational conditions for the disclosure of deeper personal matters including immigration status. First, shared immigrant and ethnic background provides a baseline sense of comfort and safety; they find symbolic belonging with those of immigrant descent. Along this vein, they exercise caution around anyone who is racially white, primarily due to associations with political conservatism. Within this overall pattern, however, pathways of selective disclosure diverge between Korean and Mexican respondents. Korean respondents more often create a distinction between the confidants with whom they discuss the intimate details of their legal situation and companions whom they see regularly but to whom they do not reveal their legal status. Through this study, I demonstrate that the vulnerable and stigmatized nature of undocumented status significantly circumscribes the freedom with which young undocumented immigrants navigate the most personal spheres of their social worlds. These findings have important implications for our understanding of the profoundly personal and pervasive effects of immigration status on the everyday lives of the undocumented community.


Kelechi Uwaezuoke | "The Case of the Leaky Pipeline: Exploring the Experiences of Under-Represented Minority Premed Students in the UC System"

The lack of representation in the physician workforce poses a complex problem for the US healthcare system. This issue is particularly evident in California where underrepresented minorities (URM) - African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans- make up 47% of the population but only 9% of physicians. Studies have shown an association between having providers of similar race/ethnicity and greater patient satisfaction and a decreased likelihood of unmet health needs. Additionally, URM physicians are more likely to practice in health physician shortage areas thereby filling a critical workforce need. There is therefore a need to invest in research, programs and policies that increase access and facilitate entry into health professions for URMs as a means of increasing diversity in the physician workforce. While premedical post-baccalaureate (post-bac) programs have shown promise as a strategy to increase URM matriculation into medical school, there is a dearth of literature on the reasons why students must enroll in them in the first place. Post-bacs often serve as an alternate, lengthier and costlier pathway to medicine for URM students who face challenges during undergrad and are unable to apply directly to medical school after graduation. In this presentation, I argue that post-bacs, while playing a critical role in the pipeline to medical school for URMs, serve as a “band-aid” to larger institutional issues. Based on data from semi-structured interviews with URM graduates of the University of California system, I discuss their undergraduate premed experiences and illuminate factors shaping their pathway to a post-bac program as a means of continuing their pursuit of a career in medicine.

Duster Room, ISSI, 2420 Bowditch Street

 issi@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0813