We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latino youth and families? Who was an important mentor to you in this work? What tips do you have for someone starting out?
When I reflect back on my career development, I understand why I place such a strong emphasis on mentoring in my current work. I was blessed to have many individuals who mentored me throughout my academic journey from my undergraduate counselor at the University of California, Irvine (Mr. Ramon Munoz), to my graduate school mentors (Drs. Marian Sigman, Steven Lopez, and Eva Lefkowitz (peer mentor) to those who have helped me as a scholar in the academy (Drs. Faye Belgrave) and a community-engaged researcher (my community partners, Ms. Tanya Gonzalez, Torey Edmonds; Drs. Cathy Howard, McKenna Brown). Some of the most significant mentors in my career have been my peer and community mentors because they have helped to keep me grounded and focused on the non-traditional impacts of our scholarship (e.g., the benefits to our communities). In the academy, it’s very easy to lose site of the people who are giving us their time and effort through their participation in our studies and instead to focus on that next publication, the journal’s impact factor, our h-index. My mentors remind me about the practical importance of what we are doing and the people we are touching. They also help to build my confidence and silence that imposter syndrome voice that is often shouting in my head. My advice to someone starting out in our field is to create and accept a mentoring circle for yourself and don’t lose sight of what drew you to what you are doing now.
We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.
I’m going to be a rebel here and not follow the directions (smile). Rather than focus on one finding/study/publication, I’m going to share one of the “themes” we’ve been exploring in our scholarship over the past few years. Specifically, we’ve been interested in understanding the role of Latinx cultural factors on youth outcomes for youth living in new destination communities or emerging Latinx communities. You’ll see in my response to one of the questions below that I have a strong interest in family orientation and connectedness. In our prior work, we’ve found that familismo, connectedness to one’s family, plays an important role for Latino/a adolescents. Due to limited bilingual services in our community, Latinx youth oftentimes have to serve as interpreters for their parents in school and medical settings. Though Latinx youth expressed that this role caused stress, they also reported that it made them feel good because they were helping their family (Corona, Stevens, Halfond, Shaffer, Reid-Quiñones, & Gonzalez, 2012). In another study, familismo was the only cultural value associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress for Latinx young adults (Corona, Rodríguez, McDonald, Velazquez, Rodríguez, & Fuentes, 2017). However, we have also found that community factors can influence cultural and developmental processes. For example, we found that ethnic identity does not serve as a protective factor in the same way for Latinx youth living in new destination communities (Radcliff, Al Ghriwati, Derlan, Velazquez, Halfond, & Corona, 2018), which runs counter to the role it plays in more established communities. It’s been exciting to conduct scholarship that focuses on our people’s cultural values and cultural processes and even more exciting to know that there are many outlets that welcome our work.
Any upcoming talks, presentations, or publications we should know about?
Right now, I’m spending most of my time working with my colleagues (Drs. Oswaldo Moreno, Daniel Gutierrez and Christine Kaestle) on a new project that is focused on substance use prevention among Latinx youth. With funding from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, we will culturally adapt an evidence-based motivational interviewing intervention and then evaluate the feasibility of implementing the intervention and also obtain pilot data on its effectiveness. Research demonstrates that interventions adapted to focus on a specific cultural group are four times more effective than those focused on the general population, and interventions provided in an individual’s native language are twice as effective (Griner & Smith, 2006). Despite the rapid growth of the Latinx community in the greater Richmond area, there continues to be a gap in bilingual prevention and mental health services available to this community. My prior community-engaged work has demonstrated that Latinx parents in the greater Richmond area are concerned about their youth engaging in risk behaviors, such as substance use, and have a desire for more bilingual services for their families to promote health. This project will provide Latinx families and their adolescents with access to an evidence-based prevention program thereby addressing a health need in the community. This project is being conducted in collaboration with our community partner, The Sacred Heart Center.
Reflections on Latino Caucus Experiences
Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latino Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latino Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.
15 years! It’s hard to believe that the SRCD Latino Caucus celebrated its quince in March 2019. If you were in the conference hotel or the convention center on Friday, you were greeted by a sea of blue t-shirts celebrating the Latino Caucus’s birthday. The sense of family that is deeply rooted in this Caucus is what I have always appreciated as a member. You may not know someone, but you see that t-shirt or the tag on people’s badges and you immediately feel a solidarity and connection to that person. You know you have found someone who “speaks your language” and who “gets” the research you are doing and that you are passionate about. In this group, there is no need to explain why what we do matters. Instead, we are given a place to exist and a voice.