Latina Researchers Network
Social Justice Essay Challenge
WINNING ESSAY BY DR. ALISON CEREZO
We asked the Latina Researchers Network, “How are you using scholarship or evaluation to promote social justice for Latinx, their families or community?” We are excited to feature the winning essays. They remind us that no matter the circumstances, the challenges or obstacles, we all have an important story. Stories that will open the doors to the next generation of investigators – stories that transcend geographic location and academic disciplines.
*Essays were edited for content and brevity.
Alison Cerezo, Ph.D.,Assistant Professor of Counseling, San Francisco State University
Dr. Alison Cerezo describes her scholarly pursuit toward uplifting marginalized communities, particularly the most vulnerable members of the Latinx community.
- B.A., Psychology and Women and Gender Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
- M.A., Psychology, Research Emphasis, California State University, Los Angeles
- Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, University of Oregon
As I consider the role of research in my professional life, it is clear that my scholarly endeavors are directed toward initiatives that uplift the social and overall health of historically marginalized communities, particularly the most vulnerable members of the Latinx community. Research, when done in a thoughtful and collaborative manner, gives forth to social justice initiatives.
It is the responsibility of academics and researchers to use their skill set to uplift communities—that should always be the overarching goal of research.
My introduction to research began in the California State University system when I was a part of a masters-to-doctoral program for low-income, first-generation college students funded by the National Institute of Health. From this experience, I learned two important lessons. First, research has the capacity to illuminate underrepresented lived experiences, that in turn, impact services and policies for communities most in need. Second, the process of carrying out research—when those most impacted by the issues under examination are part of the research process—is an effective way to foster job skills among historically disenfranchised communities. Thus, research not only provides insight into underrepresented communities, it helps communities to develop and shape their own narratives—which should ultimately guide the policies and practices that directly impact their quality of life.
During the course of my research career, I hope to produce a body of scholarship on the relation between minority stress and health outcomes among socially disadvantaged communities. My research and clinical training has prepared me to conduct studies at the intersection of multiply marginalized identities, particularly race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. My most recent completed projects concern the relationships between bias, discrimination, access to psychosocial resources and health outcomes among Latinx sexual minority and transgender women.
I am particularly interested in illuminating the systemic effects of bias and discrimination (e.g. lack of access to psychosocial resources) on health. Furthermore, I am interested in how the systemic effects of bias and discrimination impact both individual-level and community-level experiences. In other words, how discrimination experienced by one individual is then transmitted to their immediate community, such as their intimate partners, children, and other biological and chosen family. My long-term research vision is to produce a body of literature that informs policy and clinical practice with Latinx sexual minority and transgender women—two communities that have been grossly underrepresented in the social science literature.
My involvement in the Latina Researchers Network (LRN) is driven by my desire to support and expand the pipeline of talented Latinas in the academy. Thus far, in my short academic career, I have secured three grants. In each award, I have allocated funds to mentor graduate students in the research process with the goal of offsetting the financial need that would prevent their ability to conduct research and potentially seek out an academic career. I firmly believe that a major component of my job is to train students in the research process, particularly those students who—due to cultural and socio-political reasons—have been marginalized from research communities.
My involvement in research as a professional career, as well as the LRN, is rooted in my belief that research should be used as a tool of social justice in both knowledge production as well as tangible change for underserved communities.
For more information about Dr. Cerazo, visit http://counseling.sfsu.edu/people/faculty/alison-cerezo-0
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!
CHECK THE OTHERS HERE!
About us: The Latina Researchers Network was founded to ensure the successful achievement of Latina researchers and under-represented scholars. The Network is committed to bringing awareness to the challenges and opportunities faced by under-represented investigators, to showcasing excellence in scholarship, and to building a supportive community of diverse scholars and allies to increase the research pipeline. Stay connected! Get latest news and updates via our List-serve, Tweet Chats, Facebook Page and LinkedIn Group. For more information, email us at info@LatinaResearchers.com