Jesica Siham Fernández completed her PhD in social psychology with an emphasis in Latin American & Latino Studies (LALS) from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Trained as a social-community psychologist, she is commitment to engaging in social justice research that decolonizes knowledge, theory, and methods by centering individual and community experiences. Through the use of qualitative and community-based participatory action research (PAR) methods, Jesica collaborates with community members on identifying social problems affecting their lives, determining actions to address them, and facilitating sustainable structural change. Within this framework, Jesica has collaborated with Latina/o immigrant communities and young people. These experiences serve as the foundation for her research on social constructions of citizenship, specifically in regards to race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, and age. Within this focus, she studies critical civic engagement, youth community organizing, and cultural citizenship as ways of performing transgressive citizenship.
While her research is centered on empirically documenting the transgressive practices and embodiments of citizenship among Chicanas/os/Latinas/os, immigrant communities, and young people, her pedagogical approach strives to challenge students to approach their education in critical and self-reflective ways. Jesica views her research and teaching as opportunities for generating new knowledge and cultivating social change, and community engagement as the means through which collaboration and generativity are made possible. The goals of her scholarship and pedagogy are one and the same: to engage in a praxis of social justice.
Jesica’s recent publications have appeared in the Handbook of Social Psychology & Social Justice, the Journal of Sociological Studies of Children & Youth, and the American Journal of Community Psychology. She is an affiliated researcher with the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC), and a fellow of the Research Justice at the Intersections (RJI) Scholars Program at Mills College. Currently, she is a research associate on the International Study on Youth Organizing with Rod Watts (CUNY) and Ben Kirshner (CU, Boulder).