Promoting Immigrant Latino Youth
What are the factors that help promote social adjustment and school success among immigrant Latino adolescents? Among the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the U.S., Latino youth experience the highest rates of school failure and dropout, and engage in high rates of risky behavior. Yet immigrant youth and the children of immigrants display a remarkable degree of resilience in adapting to difficult circumstances (Rumbaut, 2000). Indeed research has begun to show a consistent pattern, in which immigrant Latino youth display better school achievement and suffer fewer mental health and behavioral problems than their more acculturated peers (Gonzales, Knight, Morgan-Lopez, Saenz, & Sirolli, 2000; Portes & MacLeod, 1996; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 1995). Research has begun to show that two central processes lie at the heart of understanding those patterns of achievement and adjustment:
- the development of a bicultural identity through acculturation and enculturation (Birman, 1998; Gonzales et al., 2000) and
- the maintenance of a strong sense of filial responsibility, including both a strong value toward duty and obligation to the family (Freeberg & Stein, 1996; Fuligni, Tseng, & Lam, 1999; Phinney et al., 2000; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 1995) and actual provision of needed assistance to family members (Buriel et al., 1998; Freeberg & Stein, 1996; Kuperminc, 2000; Valenzuela, 1999).
These processes are the focus of research being conducted by the research team members of Proyecto Juventud. Funded through a 5-year WT Grant Scholars Award from the William T. Grant Foundation to Dr. Gabriel P. Kuperminc, this multidisciplinary project involves students and faculty from Psychology, Anthropology, and related disciplines. The research team is currently conducting a longitudinal study involving approximately 200 Latino/a youth. The project is tracking the psychological, social, and academic development of these youth as they negotiate the transitions from middle to high school through the use of questionnaires, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic methods.
Applicants who are already enrolled in a graduate program at Georgia State University should submit all of the above to: Director of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, Department of Modern & Classical Languages, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303-3088. Applicants who are NOT already enrolled in a graduate program at Georgia State University should send a College of Arts and Sciences application, fee, transcripts, statement of purpose and the two letters of recommendation directly to:
The research team has been active since 1998 and has compiled a broad data-base on topics relevant to Latino youth, and culturally diverse groups more broadly via several cross-sectional studies, including:
- a study of acculturative and family processes that affect the social and school adjustment of immigrant Latino high school students;
- a parallel study of processes affecting the social and school adjustment of Mexican high school students in Guadalajara, MX;
- a related study in Sarajevo, Bosnia – Herzegovina of children living in the aftermath of war;
- a study of acculturation and social competence among immigrant Vietnamese adolescents; and
- a school-wide survey of work, home responsibilities, and school-extracurricular involvement.
A service project, involving GSU undergraduate students as mentors to high school students has been in place since January 1999, and a controlled, quasi-experimental evaluation has been in place since 2001.