Professional photo of Maria Davilla, woman with long hair against a blue background

Maria is a Latina scholar from a little town in Colorado who graduated in 2019 with a degree in International Affairs. She was part of many student groups and fellowship during her time at CU Boulder. Maria hopes to become an example for her younger brother and other minorities to show them that it’s possible to be successful despite being first-generation students. In her free time, she watches The Office, and works out and hikes with her dog. She intends to get her PhD in public policy for cyber defense strategies and information science from Stanford, University of Washington, or UCSD. She looks forward to entering the field where she can become a mentor for other McNair students.

Her research project focused on understanding immigration discourse and its effect on Undocumented Latinx populations. For this, Maria and her team interviewed Undocumented day laborers from College Station/Bryan, Texas before and after the 2016 presidential election. Through semi-structured surveys, ranging from the years 2015 to 2017, they analyzed the responses to questions involving racialization, as well as their knowledge on policy and created indices from these. Preliminary findings suggest that having strong local institutional networks is related to day laborers’ perceptions of increased labor abuse, criminalization, and racialization post-presidential election. These, in turn, result in day laborers lowered attachment to the area. Future research should examine the increase of citizen day laborers on the corners. Study limitations include not being able to measure the immigration discourse available to the day laborers.

Maria's McNair Scholars mentor was Sydney Ulliman. Her faculty advisor was Dr. Nancy Plankey-Videla, professor at Texas A&M University.