Emilio Parrado, the director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program at Penn, was honored as one of Delaware Valley’s most influential Latinos.
Parrado was given this honor by a local Latino newspaper, Impacto Latin, for his research and dedication to the Latino American community in Philadelphia.
Parrado, who arrived at Penn from Duke University in 2008, dedicates a great of his time to research on Latino immigration to the United States.
“I work on [adaptation] for immigrants,” Parrado said. “What makes the process successful, what are obstacles to adaptation and progress.”
Through his work, Parrado hopes to “increase the research that is being done on Latino issues and immigrant issues at the University.”
Parrado feels that his research is especially pertinent to Penn because there is a growing community of Latin American immigrants in South Philadelphia.
In 2010, Parrado began teaching a service-based learning course, “Latinos in the U.S.,” in order to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to work with Latino immigrants in South Philadelphia and various organizations, including Casa Monarca and Puentes de Salud.
Both Casa Monarca and Puentes de Salud work with Latino immigrants in Philadelphia in order to ease their transition to the United States. Parrado believes that direct interaction with immigrants and officials in these organizations is crucial for Penn students.
“One of the things I value is actually exposing students to the realities of immigration and what it means to build a community,” Parrado said. “All of that first-hand experience is very difficult to transmit only through a reading [in a] course.”
According to Parrado, prior to 2010, no course was dedicated solely to Latinos. However, he believes that in order to understand the demographics in the United States today, students should learn about the Latino population.
“Latinos want to be recognized in the U.S.,” Parrado said. “In the last election, the image that was portrayed about Latinos was very negative and the image that was portrayed about immigrants was very negative.”
“This is a way of recognizing the people in the community that contribute to development,” he added.
The course, which is offered in the fall, requires students to go through an application process. This past fall, 25 students were enrolled in the course.
According to Lizette Garcia, a College sophomore who took the course this past fall, many of the students in the class, including herself, were children of Latin American immigrants.
“When I saw this course online, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about my culture and background,” Garcia said. “I had also heard really good stuff about Professor Parrado.”
Garcia noted that she enjoyed the course.
“Professor Parrado was really relatable,” Garcia said. “There were a couple of times I went in after class to just talk to him. He was really open to anything.”
Daneel Schaechter, a College junior, also commented on his positive experience in the course.
“The course was very engaging,” Schaechter said. “Professor Parrado transformed education from something that we receive to something we receive and give back to the community. It was great.”