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Carolina Valdivia

Ph.D. candidate in education, Harvard University

Residency: January 2019 – April 2019

Research Project: Understanding How the Possibility of Being Separated Due to Deportation Affects Immigrant Young Adults and their Families

Research Interests: immigration, law and society, families, race and ethnicity, social movements


Carolina Valdivia is a doctoral candidate in education at Harvard University. Her work explores the ways through which illegality impacts the lives of immigrant youth and their families, including their educational trajectories and political participation. Her dissertation project examines how the possibility of being separated due to a deportation affects immigrant families, including members' participation in the household and school.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with immigrant young adults in San Diego, Valdivia examines how the threat of separation has affected young adults' educational experiences, daily routines and mental health. By interviewing one to two additional family members and conducting observations with three immigrant families, Valdivia also hopes to gain a rich portrait of family life, including information about how families perceive, cope and are affected by the threat of separation. Valdivia's dissertation research aims to reveal how immigration policies and enforcement efforts, which threaten families with separation, permeate family life in powerful ways.