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Grant Helps Students Explore the American Dream

Author: Ben Horvath

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Notre Dame students looking to investigate some of the pressing issues facing our country today can get support for their research through the American Dream Summer Grant program.

Offered by the College of Arts and Letters’ Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA), the grant is available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Recipients can get up to $1,500 per month during the summer to conduct an original research or creative project exploring some aspect of the “American Dream.”

These projects may include studies of immigration to the United States, the development of American social ideals, changes in real and perceived social mobility in contemporary American society, the ways in which artists and novelists have envisioned America, and how global trends have an impact on American society.

Projects supported by the grant last summer include senior anthropology major Rachel Garneau’s research on different approaches to poverty, an investigation into payday loan companies by senior economics majors (and brothers) Joseph and Michael Robinson, and history graduate student Felicia Moralez’s study on Latino socioeconomic mobility during World War II.

Thanks to the American Dream grant, Moralez spent three weeks last summer at the University of Texas in Austin, conducting research in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. There she searched through primary sources telling the story of Latino families during the 1930s and 1940s.

Moralez says she wanted to see how Latinos, especially women, were able to acculturate into American society during this time period. “Many claim World War II was a watershed moment for the acculturation of many minority groups,” she says. “I wanted to test that hypothesis.”

One of the most surprising things Moralez found was how women were already discussing social mobility prior to World War II, during the Great Depression. “Many Latina women were already thinking about education, employment, and mobility before the war even began,” she says.

“If we can understand in one period of history how this worked, it can teach us how to treat immigrants today.”

While many students travel to complete their research, they can also access American Dream-related print and media resources here in Hesburgh Libraries, thanks to a generous gift from the Prochaska family, which also sponsors the American Dream grant program.

Undergraduates interested in applying for this grant must submit a four-page proposal and letter of recommendation via URApply, the undergraduate research application system. Graduate students should email their completed applications to ISLA adviser Karla Cruise.

The application deadline is April 21, 2013.

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