We're happy to share the news that Veronica Diaz, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies (GSS) focusing on sociocultural anthropology, has successfully defended her dissertation, "The (Cuban)American Dream of Post-Soviet Era Cuban Émigrés: Perceptions vs. Realities." Veronica's dissertation committee consisted of Professors Jorge Duany (chair), Guillermo J. Grenier, Kevin Grove (all from GSS), and Michael J. Bustamante (History, University of Miami).
In her dissertation, Veronica employed a narrative inquiry approach to examine how Cuban émigrés of the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" wave (1995–2017) conceptualized the idea of the American Dream prior to migration, how the realities of living in the United States validate or invalidate their expectations, the challenges they face while attempting to adapt to American society, and how those experiences influence their cultural identities. Drawing from the narratives of thirty-five participants, the dissertation uncovers how émigrés from post-Soviet Cuba negotiate the challenges of living in the United States. Significant findings of this research include: (1) immigrants’ attitudes, adaptation experiences, and sense of belonging to the United States are influenced by their context of reception; (2) “feeling” Cuban or Cuban American, or one's sense of belonging to U.S. society, is not determined by length of time living in the United States, feelings of adaptation, or one's citizenship status, and (3) adaptation does not occur through a progression of stages, or require that one become "Americanized," since "feeling American" will differ according to each person's feelings and experiences.
Veronica Diaz is an Academic Advisor and Project Lead for the College of Arts, Sciences, & Education, as well as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, the Honors College, and the Liberal Studies Program at Florida International University. She received a master's degree in Higher Education Administration and a bachelor's degree in Social Studies Education from FIU.