Who are WE – the UndocuScholars Research Team?


The is a group of graduate students, post-graduate scholars and professors at UCLA (Robert Teranishi & Carola Suárez-Orozco) who are dedicated to shedding light on the undocumented student experience through scholarship and education. We are committed to enhancing understanding, providing information to the community, and striving to act as agents of change.


We work closely with the UndocuScholars Advisory Board — a team made up of members from community-based organizations, researchers, and undocumented college students.

Co-Principal Investigators

Carola Suárez Orozco, PhD

Carola Suárez-Orozco is a Professor of Human Development and Psychology at UCLA. Her books include: Learning a New Land: Immigrant Children in American Society , Children of Immigration,Transformations: Migration, Family Life, and Achievement Motivation Among Latino Adolescents and The New Immigration: An Interdisciplinary Reader.

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Robert Teranishi, PhD

Robert Teranishi is Professor of Social Science and Comparative Education and the Morgan and Helen Chu Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA. His research examines the causes and consequences of racial inequality in American higher education. Read More

Research Team

Cynthia Alcantar, Doctoral Student

Cynthia’s mission to increase the college access and attainment of ethnic minority students, passion for research and mentoring students, and aspirations to become a professor are driven by her personal experiences as a low-income first-generation college student, as well as past professional and research experiences. Read More

Alicia Ayala, Master's Student

Alicia Ayala is currently a second-year master’s student in Human Development and Social Intervention at New York University. She is interested in how academic engagement influences educational trajectories of immigrant-origin emerging adults. Read More

Cyndi Bendezu Palomino, MA

Cyndi Bendezu Palomino is currently Assistant Director of the UCLA McNair Research Scholars Program.  She graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University with an M.A. in Higher and Postsecondary Education. Read More

Saskiass Cassanova, PhD

Saskias Casanova is an adjunct faculty member at the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU and at the School of Human Services and Education at Metropolitan University.  Prior to this, she was an Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow in the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU. Read More

Nidia Gracia, Master's Student

Nidia Gracia is currently a second-year master’s student in the Human Development and Social Intervention program at New York University. Nidia plans to continue conducting research in a doctoral program, where she plans to obtain a Ph.D in a psychology-related field. Read More

 Edwin Hernandez, Doctoral Student

Edwin Hernandez is a doctoral student in Social Science and Comparative Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. Edwin earned his Master’s degree in Bilingual School Counseling from New York University. Read More

Dalal Katsiaficas, Doctoral Candidate

Dalal Katsiaficas is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Psychology program in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Read More

Margary Martin, PhD

Bio Coming Soon.

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