Karen Palacios


Education: Bachelor of Arts in sociology (May 2017)

Currently pursuing a Master of Arts in student affairs administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

McNair Project: The Relationship between the Employment and Education History of Hispanics/Latinos Who are First Generation Immigrants and Their Expectations and Aspirations for their Children's Education and Employment (2016)

Mentor: Chardie Baird, Ph.D.

Despite an increase in the number of Hispanics/Latinos immigrating to the United States since the 1990’s, the number pursuing higher education is not comparable to the White population. Research on the race/ethnic gap in college degrees tends to focus on the societal barriers to explain this problem. However, research on Salvadorians acculturation in Canada suggests that Hispanic/Latino parents experience immigrating and assimilating to this new country may have an important effect on how they guide their children. Through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, I examine how Hispanic/Latino immigrant parents make sense of their current and past work and education experiences and their expectations and aspirations for their children’s future educational and occupational outcomes. I find that the Hispanic/Latino parents in my sample tend to have high expectations for their children because they view the educational system in the US as an improvement to the educational system of their country of birth. Despite their own negative work and educational experience within the United States, and a desire to return to their home country, they express a seemingly contradictory concern that their children will experience the same barriers the parents faced. While first generation immigrants hope and encourage their children to attain higher education, in many subtle ways they communicate to their children that a more realistic goal may be to pursue immediate employment after high school.