Jai Vaca

Jai Vaca  
Faculty Mentor
Dr. Maria E. Cruz
San José State
Grade Level
Master’s 2nd Year
Expected Date of Graduation
Spring 2021
Justice Studies
Doctoral Study Field of Interest
Social Sciences

Jai is examining how legal status affects Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students’ academic success and mental health. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the challenges DACA students’ experience while pursuing higher education. Prior to the United State Supreme Court ruling in June 2020, DACA recipients were at risk of losing their temporary legal status. The potential elimination of the DACA program causes thousands of DACA recipients to worry about what the future holds for them. The struggle of coping with legal limbo leads to mental and phys¬ical anguish. Exploratory research on this issue has shown this uncertainty increases the rate of mental health distress for university students and creates barriers in achieving academic success. During graduate school, his goal is to build awareness of this issue but most importantly bridge the gap in current research.