Dr. Parra’s research examines the role of immigration, acculturation and poverty in the health status of minority populations, processes to facilitate immigrant integration. The focus of her research is one of disease and risk prevention, with special emphasis on applied research to design and test interventions to achieve long-term health behavior change. She has been awarded grants from the National Institute for Mental Health, the US Department of Agriculture, the Social Science Research Council, and has published on health related issues.
Our current project (Hatch NYC 2015-16-229) continues the study that examines the integration of immigrant populations in rural communities. The project build on findings of the completed Fund for Rural America project in five New York communities and the projects, Community Response to Immigrant Settlement in Upstate New York (NYC-159441) and Context Matters: Institutions Working for Immigrant Integration Hatch 2012-13-170). Our past research results showed immigrant families will attend trusted sites and have interest in participating if some conditions are met: trusted sites, information in Spanish for parents, and content of programs offered. We continue our working links with churches, schools and organizations to examine the viability of programs to foster immigrant access to jobs, housing, English language technical training, schooling and health care. One general objective is the identification and development of community-based programs to foster social network formation and promote the integration of immigrants into the social and economic life of rural communities. We identified that a relevant mechanism that favors immigrant integration is the establishment of relationships with long term residents. However, to make possible the bridging of immigrants and long-term residents, communities need to facilitate immigrant access to local programming. These initiatives would promote the integration of immigrants into the social and economic life of their new destinations.
Two related projects are active. 1) It follows up the general project of Immigrant Integration with a focus on children. This project examines the inclusion of immigrant children into local programs. I want to provide insights about how to link children of immigrant families to 4-H and other available extension programs. Our project also explored how to engage students in applied research where they will learn by doing, provide service and learn research skills. Our practical research objective is to provide insights about how to link Hispanic/Latino immigrant children and families to ongoing 4-H programming in Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE). CCE acknowledges the importance of inclusion of newcomers into the Extension programs to foster the participation and education of the newcomers living in rural towns and small cities. Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) has offices in every county in New York State, and as such, it provides local sustainable programming for immigrant families.
Our last year’s effort built on previous work. Participants and their parents of the past five summer’s workshops confirmed findings from our previous interviews and focus groups with immigrants. They expressed that activities in the church premises and in schools were trusted, they felt welcome to attend, and that more programs would be desirable. They were pleased to see community members interested in their wellbeing and the opportunity to learn about the American culture. During the summer of 2015 we examined the acceptability of 4-H by immigrant families. We worked with a church in Marion, NY and Middletown, NY and tested interest and viability of Extension programming with two Latino groups of mothers and children.
In 2016, we carried 5 workshops during the summer, CCE staff from each county mentored Cornell students involved in 4-H programs, helped with the outreach efforts and provided support and guide to the student’s projects. This relationship turned into a valuable experience for students. 4-H team leaders and youth development educators provided on-site training, participated on the planning of student’s clubs and help with sessions. We are in preparation of a report to inform other agencies best practices on how to reach and work with the immigrant population in rural areas. In continuation with the 4-H Clubs during summer, three new clubs have been carried during the fall 2016 and continue into spring 2017 in Sullivan and Orange County. During the summer of 2017 four clubs were organized in Wayne and Orange County. Reports and guidelines for dissemination are currently under preparation/revision.
2) A collaboration with Professor Michael Shapiro and Professor Robert Gravani study to test and develop most effective messages to reduce risk perception and unsafe home food preparation practices among recent immigrant Latino populations. Narratives of personal experiences with a food borne illness are filmed and preventative messages added to the narrative of an experience of a food borne illness. Studies have shown that prevention and educational messages by persons that "look like me" are more successful. Narrative will be tested with Mexican American audiences.
This research effort, is an extension of the project "Home food safety knowledge and practices among Mexican American." A published paper and a webinar were produced. The project will carry interviews with Mexican origin and Mexican American on food safety to look at best ways to prepare educational messages for this population. A second paper under preparation "The role of acculturation in food safety practices among Mexican American and Mexican origin populations"
Pfeffer M.J. and Parra P. Strong Ties, Weak Ties, and Human Capital: Latino Immigrant Employment Outside the Enclave. Rural Sociology. Issue 74(2):241-269. June 2009
Pfeffer M.J. and Pilar A. Parra. Community Response to Immigrants in New Destinations. Research and Policy Briefs. Community and Rural Development Institute (CARDI). Department of Development Sociology. Cornell University. November 2008
Parra Pilar A. and Max J. Pfeffer. New Immigrants in Rural Communities: The Challenges of Integration. In: The Border Next Door: New York Migraciones. Social Text 88, Vol 24., No.3, pp 81-98. Fall 2006.
Pfeffer Max J. and Pilar A. Parra. Immigrants and the Community: Community Perspectives. Cornell University. 1500 GPP Report #4, October 2005. Development Sociology. Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Pfeffer Max J. and Pilar A. Parra. Immigrants and the Community: Former Farmworkers. Cornell University. 1500 GPP 060047. Report #3, September 2005. Development Sociology. Division of Nutritional Sciences
Parra Pilar A. and Max J. Pfeffer. Immigrants and the Community: Farmworkers with Families. Cornell University. 1500 GPP 050357. Report #2, April 2005. Development Sociology. Division of Nutritional Sciences
Pfeffer Max J. and Pilar A. Parra. Immigrants and the Community. Cornell University.1500 GPP 11607. Report #1, November 2004. Development Sociology. Division of Nutritional Sciences
2000 –present Faculty Fellow. Latino Living Center.
2006 –present Board member Latino Studies Program
2013 -present Faculty Advisor. Student Organization: Hope Renewed in Campus
2015 -present. Faculty Advisor. Student Organization: Operation Smile
2011 - present Faculty Advisor for Nutritional Sciences HBHS Major
Member American Public Health Association (listed as a reviewer)
Reviewer Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Reviewer Journal Women's Health and Urban Life
Reviewer Journal of Rural Sociology
Reviewer Research on Aging
Current efforts to extend working relationships with additional counties that have a larger number of immigrant Latino population.
Ongoing project working with three counties to test pilot 4-H initiatives (Wayne, Orange and Sullivan) Hatch and Smith Lever (2015-16-229).