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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UMass: Doctoral Student Receives National Geographic Grant

Ms. Sarah Lowe, a doctoral student in community health education in the University of Massachusetts-Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, has received a $57,500 grant from the National Geographic Society to facilitate her dissertation research.

Ms. Lowe works as a Digital Strategist for Define American, a non-profit media organization that uses the power of story to shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America. In 2012, Define American helped 30 undocumented immigrants across the nation come out publicly about their status in a TIME Magazine cover story that directly influenced the policy decision of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under the Obama Administration and fundamentally changed the way the nation viewed the undocumented community.

The National Geographic project follows up with these 30 individuals, documenting the ways in which their lives have unfolded since becoming public and exploring the positive and negative effects of “coming out” about their undocumented status around their mental health and wellbeing.

Ms. Lowe’s formative research through this project seeks to determine the effectiveness of digital storytelling as an intervention strategy with undocumented immigrants, striving to learn from their coping mechanisms and increase resilience within and around their communities.

“Ultimately, I hope to create deeper understanding of why families migrate, how they find resilience, and document their enduring struggle to achieve the American dream: citizenship and the pursuit of happiness in the country they call home,” says Ms. Lowe.

Ms. Lowe will begin her fieldwork in fall 2019, which will culminate in an interactive essay exclusive for National Geographic publication.