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Fernanda Lima Cross

Assistant Professor in Social Work

Fernanda Lima Cross is an Assistant Professor in Social Work. Her program of research utilizes a strength-based approach to examining family and cultural factors that promote Latinx adolescents’ and families’ healthy development and mitigate the risk for maladaptive psychological and educational outcomes. She is particularly interested in examining the effect of undocumented status on family processes and adolescents’ outcomes as well as the role of ethnic-racial socialization and identity development as protective factors. Prior to earning a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan, Fernanda completed an MSW at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. To inform her research, she utilizes qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methodologies, and community-based participatory research. She draws on not only her personal experience as a Latinx immigrant from Brazil, but also on her early career as a social worker providing counseling to Latinx families, as well as through her almost two decades of involvement in the Latinx immigrant community of southeast Michigan as both an advocate and a Portuguese/Spanish interpreter. Through her years in this country, Fernanda has had first-hand experience of how Latinxs living in the USA face numerous layers of discrimination, including severe educational and socioemotional disparities, with those experiencing the compounding effects of their marginalized identities, such as undocumented immigrants, confronting additional challenges. Her goal as professor and researcher is to remain committed to social justice and to bring Latinx mixed-status families to the forefront of mainstream research. By including the experiences of marginalized, hard-to-reach, and understudied groups, such as Latinx undocumented immigrants, in well-studied frameworks, using ethical research practices, we acknowledge their presence in our society and gain a better understanding of the ways in which they adapt and respond to their social context, which ultimately impact policies directed towards these families. Fernanda is the mother of 4 young children whom she had as she worked and completed her undergraduate, MSW and PhD degrees at the University of Michigan. She is looking forward to and excited about working with and mentoring Latinx students as well as all other students committed to disrupting the mechanisms in society that support the oppression of Latinx immigrant families.

Research Interests:

Latinx Mixed-Status Families, Undocumented Immigrants, Ethnic-Racial Socialization, Discrimination Experiences, Adolescent Mental Health and Academic Outcomes