Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Researcher insight

Cynthia Cueva-Luna

Cynthia Cueva-LunaCynthia Cueva-Luna joins us from the University of Texas, America, to study a PhD.

The talented student is fluent in three languages and has received numerous academic awards and recognition for her achievements. She has always been actively involved with her community as a volunteer in nursing homes, libraries and fundraisers and has chosen the University to pursue her PhD studies, which focus on the area of undocumented children in the United States.

She is being supervised by Dr Jason Hart, whose work has explored the experience of young people on the margins of society and the global economy. Cynthia is interested in the controversy surrounding the legality of unregistered persons.

Research with undocumented children in the U.S. has never been undertaken in any capacity in academia and having observed the lives of these children for years, I have noted that they prove to be a marginalized and vulnerable population.

As she is one of the first people to establish access with America’s undocumented children she aims to bring forth the challenges which they face.

An estimated 1.9 million of these children live illegally in the United States and their status creates barriers and hardship for them on a daily basis meaning that they have an obstructed and uncertain future.

Facing a daily fear of deportation, many undocumented children live on the margins of society which denotes that pursuing higher education in not a reality for most. Additionally, as their futures are burdened by the fact that they will not be able to legally work in the country, undocumented children face limited socio-economic mobility. Ultimately, as they reach adulthood, these children must come to the realisation that their future consists of exclusion from participating in a multitude of activities including driving, establishing credit, and exercising the right to vote.

Cynthia’s proposed research area is of significant and personal importance to her, as for many years she has observed the daily lives and barriers encountered by undocumented children.

The lack of research demonstrates that these children are misrepresented and overlooked. Through various capacities I have gained access to them in the United States and I believe that the sheer size of their population demonstrates that it is necessary for their stories to be heard and for their hopes and aspirations concerning the future to become known.

She hopes that through her research she will be able to give a voice to a population, which until now has remained silent. Furthermore, her scholarship has meant that she will be able to continue with her research on this area, highlighting their stories and providing an understanding as to their lives of this vulnerable and marginalized population.

So far Cynthia has been very impressed with the University, and especially likes the sense of community despite its size, “everyone (students, staff and lecturers) makes a huge effort to create a community atmosphere. There is a great sense of belonging and comfort and as a foreign student feeling part of a community away from home has been an incredible experience”. She has received much support from her supervisor, who she can go to with any questions or concerns that she may have. She also enjoys the University’s international element in terms of being able to share and reflect upon different cultural practices and individual’s ideas from other countries, “it is an incredible experience because you gain a great deal of insight”. The modern facilities of the Sports Centre and the Library which is open 24 hours a day have also made an impact upon the student.

Cynthia is a big fan of the city of Bath itself as, “it is so historical and beautiful”. Furthermore, “the many events such as the Bath Film Festival and the Christmas Market mean it is a very unique place”. The UK attracted Cynthia due to its rich academic history and she says that the incredible city and the University’s academic program means it was the place for her.