2023-2024 Social Justice Fellows

To encourage innovation and scholarship, the institute has established a Social Justice Fellowship Program that, through grants, funds faculty and student activities that advance social justice work, from humanistic inquiry to action research.

Previous grants have supported proposals that focus on issues that are both local and global. From youth development to elderly care; from political systems to individual recovery efforts, these projects have represented the same diversity as their recipients. The Social Justice Institute is proud to announce the current fellows:

Elisa Borerro

Biculturalism as Buffer: The Association between Bilingualism, Emotion Regulation, and Internalizing Symptomology in Latinx Youth

Elisa Borrero, PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology

The proposed research study aims to elucidate the relationship between bilingualism, emotion regulation, and internalizing symptoms in
Latinx youth, clarify specific directions for future longitudinal research, and provide and disseminate culturally-mindful, practical recommendations for mental health providers and Latinx families alike. Latinx families and community organizations will be offered resources that promote cultural pride in the prevention and/or treatment of internalizing problems. Clinicians will be offered didactic materials that support culturally mindful assessment/treatment of and rapport with Latinx teen patients. We expect that Latinx bilingual youth with higher bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish will demonstrate more robust, flexible emotion regulation strategies and, in turn, report less internalizing symptoms. It is further hypothesized that Latinx youth with more bilingually proficient parents will exhibit more emotion regulation strategies and, in turn, report less internalizing symptoms.

Amber Ndukwe

Striving for reintegration: A study examining the experiences of incarcerated mothers

Amber Byrd Ndukwe, PhD Candidate in Sociology

This study will focus on Black incarcerated single mothers ages eighteen and up as they reenter society. Given that African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated in America, it will focus primarily on incarcerated mothers who are Black because they are likely to be represented in this population. There are approximately 2.5 million women and girls released from prison and jails each year. The study will study aspects of reentry, specifically how they repair, forge and build familial relationships, and how they deal with issues like housing and childcare. Furthermore, it will examine frequency of contact, familial networks, support networks, and custody or legality issues. The study will be a qualitative study that entails interviews both before and after they are released. This research is significant because the majority of incarcerated women are mothers, thus their experiences should be represented. More than 60% of women in state prisons, and nearly 80% of those in jail, have minor children. Unlike fathers who are incarcerated, most incarcerated mothers are single mothers, solely responsible for their young children. This research is unique in that it focuses exclusively on the experiences of incarcerated women and the intersection of motherhood and reentry. The research will add to the discussion of the carceral system in America and the public discussions of prison abolition and prison reform efforts.

Regan Gee

Health, Wellness, and Hózhó: a CBPR Study with an Indigenous-Serving Charter School

Regan Gee, PhD Candidate in Medical Anthropology

This study will examine the production of health and wellness at a K-8 Indigenous-serving charter school and non-profit in the Southwest United States, using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework. CBPR is often recommended by Indigenous communities and scholars as a framework that is protective, equitable, and empowering for Indigenous populations, who have been historically mistreated by academic researchers. The school represents a diverse community of stakeholders who utilize both Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge in their wellness programs. These programs, in turn, act as prisms, allowing us to discover the complex entangling of subjectivity, history, identity, power, and medicine that is then leveraged to promote wellness and health among staff, students, and the surrounding community.

Headshot of Kari O'Donnell

A political economic exploration of the relationship between intimate partner violence histories and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Kari O'Donnell, PhD Candidate in Social Welfare

This three-paper dissertation explores the state's role and intimate partner violence (IPV) among recipients of Temporary Assistance of Needy Families (TANF). The overall aim centers on the neoliberal state's role in the lives of economically disadvantaged women through programs like TANF. IPV, a serious and complex social issue, is defined as physical, sexual, and psychological violence and stalking by a current or former partner. IPV is further complicated by financial instability and poverty, which can increase the likelihood of IPV among the general population and lead to increased stress in the household and relationships. Paper 1, an integrated review, assesses the state of theoretical and empirical literature related to IPV and TANF outcomes by gathering a range of studies, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Paper 2, a cross-sectional study, will provide a snapshot of the experiences of TANF recipients who have struggled with IPV and examine the role of economic abuse and program aspects that function as barriers to successful TANF outcomes. For paper 3, a phenomenological approach, qualitative interviews will be used to explore the perceptions of TANF recipients experiencing IPV have of IPV, TANF caseworkers, and the role of the state in their daily lives.

Hailey Chu


The Association Between the Model Minority Myth and Authenticity on Asian American Advocacy and Mental Health

Hailey Chu, PhD student, Clinical Psychology

This project seeks to examine effects that minority stress and cultural values have on social justice engagement. For instance, whether participants think it is acceptable for someone who is Black to engage in social justice versus if they think it is acceptable for someone Asian to engage. Moreover, the project will assess the degree to which someone believes the model minority myth (or has been exposed to it) and the degree to which the person feels justified in engaging in advocacy or social justice for Asians. Additionally, the project will assess cultural values and minority stress as it relates to risk for anxiety and depression in youth.