June 14, 2004
Award-winning grad student combines research
with work in community
By Scott Rappaport
Christina Morales holds the distinction of being the first person in
her immediate and extended family to attend a four-year college.
Christina Morales is the second Latina graduate student in UCSCs
History Department to be awarded a $69,000 Ford Foundation Predoctoral
Scholarship for Minorities. Photo
by Scott Rappaport
other outstanding UCSC students are available online at http://www.ucsc.edu/students/profiles/
She also happens to be the second Latina graduate student in the History
Department at UCSC to be honored with a $69,000 Ford Foundation Predoctoral
Scholarship for Minorities.
The award is given each year to only 60 students across the country
who have demonstrated superior scholarship and show the greatest
promise for future achievement as scholars, researchers, and teachers
in institutions of higher learning.
Growing up in a low-income community in Gilroy, California, Morales
was actively involved during her high school years in MECHA, the community-oriented
student organization promoting education on issues involving Mexican
Americans. As an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, she spent
time volunteering at local public elementary and high schools, tutoring
and helping ESL students. She also worked with student groups on campus
to promote diversity education and programs to recruit students and
faculty of color.
During her senior year, Morales served as director of the Santa Clara
University Multi-Cultural Center, supervising eight student organizations,
as well as a staff of 15, and dealing with everything from programming
and budgets to training and legal issues. After graduating with a B.A.
in history, she spent a year working for Mujeres Pueden, a welfare-to-work
program in San Jose, where she served as case manager for Mexican American
single mothers on public assistance, helping them to become employed
and self-sufficient. She also applied to three doctoral programs in
history, ultimately choosing to come to UCSC.
I had heard good things about Latino and Latina scholars here,
Morales recalled. UCSC was also the only place where the faculty
called me and students e-mailed me prior to my acceptanceit seemed
really inviting. They expressed interest in what my research interests
were, and I felt like it was going to be a good fit.
Last year, Morales completed her masters thesis on the forced
sterilization of Chicanas that took place during the 1970s. During her
first year at UCSC, she continued her involvement in the community,
working with teenage daughters of incarcerated women for the Girl Scouts
of San Jose. She now works part-time for Project HIRED, a Santa Clara
nonprofit organization that helps disabled individuals find sustainable
The three-year Ford Fellowship, which begins this Fall, will enable
Morales to focus completely on her research. Her upcoming dissertation
project will examine the repatriation movement to expel the Mexican
community from the United States during the Depression of the 1930s.
My goal is to look at how the migratory process affects the development
of communities, personal, and national identities, she explained.
The foundation will also provide Morales with an invaluable, all-expense
paid trip to a national conference of Ford Fellows--offering her the
opportunity to network with her peers, attend career advancement workshops,
meet with representatives from university and academic presses, and
interact with established and emerging scholars in a variety of fields.
Although her ultimate aspiration is to become a university professor,
Morales definitely plans to continue working in the community, well
aware of how much her volunteer and work experience has come to shape
her research interests.
Im really interested in issues of educationone of
my goals is to be involved in university policy and serve on school
boards, Morales said. I would also like to be able to mentor
students in the future, she added, because I had such a
positive experience with professors who mentored me.
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