I entered the Department of Sociology's PhD program in 2004, after receiving a Master's degree abroad, from the University of Warwick (UK). I chose USC's program because I had already been introduced to books written by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo when I was in graduate school, and was eager to attend a program where I could learn from a notable scholar in immigration studies. In addition, the USC Sociology department offered core graduate-level classes in several fields I had interest in: Sex and Gender, Race Theory, and a year-long Qualitative Methods course. I was also glad with the elective offerings in other departments, such as Latino Studies in the program for American Studies and Ethnicity.
I conducted ethnographic research for my thesis, an ethnography on masculinity among recovering gang members at a Pentecostal church, Victory Outreach. This research was published in Ethnic and Racial Studies, and then led to my dissertation work, a comparative analysis of faith-based gang recovery at Homeboy Industries and Victory Outreach. I received a dissertation fellowship from the Haynes Foundation, and was able to publish research from my dissertation in two edited volumes by leading presses.
I also developed a very strong quantitative methods background at USC. I took advanced quantitative methods, worked as a research assistant for a professor in sociology, and was selected for a provost's research fellowship at the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), the leading policy think-tank for Latino issues in the US. At TRPI, I lead authored a policy briefs and reports. One policy report, on English language learning at LAUSD, helped as part of a major federal investigation by the Department of Education, and was used as a resource for research into two California State Senate bills (SB 753 & 754).
I am now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Loyola University of Chicago. I am working on a book proposal and manuscript, focusing on faith and Latino masculinity in recovery from gang life. I am grateful for the various experiences I've been fortunate to have at USC, which have all contributed to my scholarly development. As a faculty member at a Catholic-Jesuit university, I will continue to strive to conduct meaninful research that addresses the gang problem, and the role of faith-based community organizations in social reform. And, although I have already graduated, I still reflect on my USC experience as I continue to grow in a collaborative scholarly environment.