How My Sociology PhD has Prepared Me


I come from an immigrant family, my parents don’t have formal education, so I spent my first two years wondering if I would even come back the
next day to graduate school. MacArthur Park is personally
significant for me because this is where my parents met, years after being in Los Angeles, my mom arrived at nine years old, my dad at 17, so they met
a few years after arriving. MacArthur Park is really the center of Central American life in Los Angeles. I was obviously very
passionate about the topic of unaccompanied, undocumented youth, work and life in Los Angeles, having grown up in downtown L.A. and in the surrounding communities and came to know this
group of undocumented, unaccompanied youth garment workers here in downtown Los Angeles. And sort of snowballed into my interest in undocumented,
unaccompanied youth labor. So I am trained as an ethnographer. I’m a qualitative researcher,
my research is really about embedding myself into a community, getting to know the people and
talking about the processes that shape their outcomes
and everyday lives, so choosing USC sociology, USC Dornsife, was a matter of not only
the institutional support I would receive to do that kind of work, but being centrally
located in this community where I would be able to conduct what was essentially four years of ethnographic research to
complete the project that I did. Being able to engage
as a public sociologist is, I think, what has prepared me the best for my work moving forward.