People July 1, 2015 | 10:54 am

CUNY Dominican Studies Institute presents junior scholars

New York.- The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute is committed to nurturing and guiding young scholars in the field of Dominican Studies. As a part of this commitment, CUNY DSI offers extended research opportunities to junior scholars, most of which take place in the summer.

Over the years, CUNY DSI has hosted junior researchers from various colleges, including: Barnard, Bergen County Community College, Brown, SUNY-Geneseo, Swarthmore and more. This year we welcome young scholars ranging from high school seniors to master’s candidates.

These rising scholars become directly involved in major academic projects in development at the Institute, doing research, working on federal grants, and participating in meetings with senior level staff and important visitors. CUNY DSI seeks to offer junior researchers a dynamic and enriching experience in the day-to-day operations of an academic research institute, while simultaneously contributing to their individual development. Junior researchers work on two projects while they are at CUNY DSI: one related to their own research interests and the other a research project currently undertaken by the Institute. We are happy to share an update featuring all of our rising scholars for the summer of 2015:

Zoraida Colon

Zoraida Colón is a recent graduate of LaGuardia Community College and will continue on to Smith College in the fall of 2015. She will major in Sociology and earn a B.A. in May 2018. At CUNY DSI, Zoraida will work on a nascent research project studying Dominican women in politics in the United States, under the supervision of Senior Research Associate Dr. Jacqueline Jiménez Polanco and CUNY DSI Director Dr. Ramona Hernández. Zoraida’s research interests include women’s rights and resistance movements and women of color in higher education. She hopes to pursue a PhD and continue mentoring young students.

Jinette Disla

Jinette Disla will earn a B.S./B.A. at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business in May 2017. At CUNY DSI, she is currently working on an educational resource guide for Dominican immigrants. This guide is part of a larger initiative undertaken in collaboration with the Dominican Consulate of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Jinette will serve as co-principal investigator of the project.

The guide will provide information about services related to the transition and integration process. Jinette’s research interests include socioeconomic and financial profile as well as education access and reform, with a focus on marginalized communities. She hopes to pursue a career in teaching with a focus on educational consulting.

Groana Melendez

Groana Meléndez is an MFA candidate in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center of Photography. She is an artist who was raised between New York City and Santo Domingo. At CUNY DSI, she is working on identifying archival materials for an exhibition about Dominican veterans who served in World War II, as well as a website on the history of Dominican music in the United States.

Her work explores identity, class dynamics, and familial relationships. She has exhibited internationally, with her first solo show held at the New York Public Library. Her work has been published in Nueva Luz and Latina Magazine. To learn more, visit her website at

Alexandra Reyes

Alexandra Reyes will graduate from Wake Forest University in May 2018 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Statistics. Alex is currently assisting CUNY DSI Director Dr. Ramona Hernández with two research projects. One project explores the early migration of Dominicans to the U.S., while the other documents Dominicans’ current internal mobility to states outside of their usual migration patterns. She also assisted in the development of the aforementioned educational resource guide. Her research interests include the myth of the “American Dream,” the intersection between race and poverty, and transnational theory. After completing her undergraduate career, Alex plans on earning a Master’s degree in Statistics.

Christopher Rodriguez

Christopher Rodriguez is a senior at Commack High School in Commack, NY. At CUNY DSI, Christopher will serve as the second co-principal investigator of the educational resource guide for recent Dominican immigrants. He will collaborate with his fellow researchers to maintain and update the guide, finding new information and verifying details about ESL classes, GED programs, and other services. He is on his high school football team and will join the Spanish language and culture club, as well as his high school’s Art National Honor Society in the upcoming academic year. He hopes to major in Business during college and pursue a career in the field after graduation.

Emily Salitan

Emily Salitan is a senior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where she studies Sociology and Spanish. This summer she received Bowdoin College’s Lifson Family Summer Research Fellowship, and is working on a project that explores the connection between food and identity of first- and second-generation Dominicans living in New York City. While at CUNY DSI, Emily will supplement her research by investigating the food practices of New York Dominicans prior to 1960 and comparing them with the findings of her present-day research. She will also supervise Christopher Rodriguez for the duration of his time at CUNY DSI. Emily’s research interests include immigrant and transnational identity, race/ethnicity, foodways and consumption.

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