Evelyn Pruneda

Evelyn Pruneda Photo

My name is Evelyn Pruneda and I am a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Sociology at UCR. I earned by B.A. in Politics from Occidental College and a Masters of Public Administration from California State University, Fresno. My research interests include critical race and gender studies, labor, social movements, and environmental sociology. My dissertation work centers the experiences of women farmworkers in California’s rural San Joaquin Valley and focuses on the political and social borders that shape and exacerbate multiple marginalized identities that influence their work, family, and community lives. I incorporate insights from feminist geography to provide context to the historical exclusion and displacement of Mexican immigrants in the Valley resulting in segregated low-income unincorporated areas which lack access to basic services, including clean water, public transportation, and political representation. As a native of the Valley, as the granddaughter of immigrant farmworkers, and as a first-generation college student, I believe that I have a responsibility to use my training to work towards solutions to the myriad challenges that many families experience due to systemic injustices. My passion for this work stems from my personal biography as well as the urgency of this sociopolitical moment in which many farmworkers in the Valley contend with the intersection of increased anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies as well as the COVID-19 crisis which disproportionately impacts low-wage workers who lack healthcare or protective equipment. These challenges are contextualized by farmworkers’ vulnerability to climate crisis-related threats, including challenges to their health and livelihoods due to more extreme droughts, heat, and fires. Prior to my graduate career at UCR, I worked on Capitol Hill as a Staff Assistant for Speaker Nancy Pelosi during my time as a fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and I have extensive experience working with community-based organizations focusing on college access programs for high school students both in Southern California as well as the Central Valley. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, cycling, reading, and photography. I am excited to bring my experiences and passion for scholarship and community-based work to the Center for Social Innovation.