William Perez - Pepperdine GSEPWhile many aspects of the Latino culture were celebrated in September, during Latino Heritage month, the issues of immigration and undocumented students still remain in the forefront of Latino communities.

The Urban Institute estimates that there are approximately 3.4 million children and young adults under the age of 24 living in the United States who are undocumented. The academic and emotional fate of undocumented youth has gained much attention as of late. The debate in California's gubernatorial race includes some candidates favoring an end to a 2001 state law that allows undocumented California high school graduates to attend public universities. Currently, they must pay the in-state tuition and do not qualify for financial aid.

In response to the academic future of undocumented students, the Diversity Council at the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology invited William Perez, Ph.D., author of We Are Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream, as the speaker for the fall 2010 Diversity Council Speaker Series event on Wednesday, September 29, at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus. 

Dr. Perez’ presentation is titled, Exceptional Students, Marginal Lives: Achievement and Civic Engagement Among Undocumented Latino Youths. In his book, We Are Americans, Dr. Perez comments, “despite public investment in their education, high levels of achievement, community service, leadership experience, and a deep sense of commitment to American society, undocumented students remain without legal status, are not considered American and thus are not eligible for any type of assistance to attend college, even though over 90% of the students surveyed aspire to obtain a Masters degree or higher.”

William Perez, Ph.D.
Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Dr. Perez came to the United States in the early nineteen eighties at the age of 10 to escape the civil war that began in 1979. He spent his remaining childhood in Pomona, California, attended Pomona College, and later earned a Ph.D. in child and adolescent development from Stanford University.

A professor at Claremont Graduate University, he is an emerging leader on research that examines the social and psychological development of immigrant and Latino students. He strives to bring a depth of research experience to the complex problems of academic achievement and higher education access.