ASU sociologist studies immigration through kids

Born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico, an ASU sociology professor knows what it is like to live as a first-generation immigrant.

When she was growing up, Emir Estrada worked with her parents in a family-owned grocery store. These experiences led her to research the role Latino children play in family work relationships.

“I worked in a little grocery store where my entire family helped,” Estrada said. “My mother was a teacher as well, and when she would go teach, I would stay and work until she came back, and we closed the store together.”

When she was 17, Estrada and her family moved back to the U.S. There, she worked a few more jobs with her mom, like cleaning houses and working in kitchens, before enrolling in her local community college.

“One of my sociology classes gave me the freedom of writing about whatever I wanted,” she said. “I researched Latino children and work and found that there wasn’t much written about them.”

Estrada said it wasn’t until she enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Southern California that she was able to work with her professors to narrow down her topic of study and get involved in her research.

What really got her into the field, however, was selling her car.

“In order to afford grad school, I had to sell my car and start taking public transportation everywhere,” Estrada said. “The bus took me on routes I wouldn’t have normally taken if I were driving, and I ran into a lot of street vendors in Los Angeles.”

She said she started buying food from the vendors pretty often and began to notice that there were more children there in the afternoons. Thus, her idea was born.

By Alexis Egeland for The State Press
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