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How Social Network Members Communicate Support (or a Lack of Support) to DACAmented College Students.

Using a resilience framework, this project examines the stress, coping, and resiliency of DACAmented college students, primarily of Latin American origin. First, DACAmented students will participate in semi-structured telephone interviews to help us understand the stressors that DACAmented students face (e.g., microaggressions, uncertainty, fear of deportation), how DACAmented students cope with such challenges, and how others (e.g., allies, DACAmented friends, and family members) communicate support or a lack of support. Second, DACAmented students will complete an online pre-survey, an audio-recorded conversation with a friend, and an online post-survey three times across the academic year, as well as an end-of-the-year survey. The goal is to understand how DACAmented students and their friends talk about undocumented stressors in real time (not self-reported) and to identify messages that are more effective than others at improving DACAmented students’ mental health, enhancing their academic motivation, and decreasing their substance use. Because DACAmented students might interact differently when friends who are allies versus DACAmented, this project will examine differences in conversations and their effects. Lastly, each dyad will engage in a positive reframing technique during their second and third conversations. If the positive reframing technique attenuates stress, this technique can be encouraged in a campus-wide campaign.


Kam, J. A., Merolla, A. J., & High, A. (2019). Latinx immigrant youth’s indirect and direct disclosures about their family-undocumented experiences, received emotional support, and depressive symptoms. Communication Research, 47, 599-622.

Kam, J. A., Steuber Fazio, K. R., & Mendez Murillo, R. (2019). Disclosing one’s undocumented status to non-family members: Exploring the perspectives of undocumented youth of Mexican origin. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36, 3178-3198.

Kam, J. A., Pérez Torres, D., & Steuber Fazio, K. R. (2018). Identifying individual- and family-level coping strategies for undocumented youth of Mexican origin. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 46, 641-664.

Kam, J., and A. Merolla. 2018. “Hope Communication As A Predictor Of Documented And Undocumented Latina/O High School Students’ College Intentions Across An Academic Year”. Communication Monographs 85: 23.


Professor of Communication

Funding Source

CSI Faculty Seed Award