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Sociology and Criminology & Law

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Nicholas Vargas

Dr. Nicholas Vargas


Areas of Specialization

  • Race and Ethnicity

  • Latina/o Studies

  • Racial Stratification

  • Educational Inequalities

  • Religion and Non-Religion

  • Network Diversity and Social Support

What project are you working on now?

I am currently working on a handful of research projects related to racial stratification, racial classification, and U.S. Latina/os. The newest is a study of the racialization of higher education, specifically the growth of colleges and universities designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). There are nearly 500 Hispanic Serving Institutions of higher education in the U.S. educating roughly 2 of every 3 Latinx college students in the nation. There are 27 HSIs in the state of Florida alone. Yet, we know little about their varied efforts and capacities to address racialized educational disparities. My goal is to better understand HSIs’ varied strengths and limitations as minority serving institutions, such that they can be better situated to serve Latinx students. In addition, I am conducting research on the Latina/o Whitening hypothesis, racial identity contestation, and DACA student experiences in Florida.

How did you get interested in research on Race and Ethnicity?

I’ve been interested in better understanding U.S. racialization and racial stratification for as long as I can remember. But the thought that my research could contribute to race and ethnicity scholarship began as a M.A. student here (the sociology department at UF) with support from the late Hernán Vera. Shortly after taking his Race and Film seminar at UF, I enrolled as a PhD student at Purdue University and began studying the intersections of race and religious identity.

What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my family, being silly with my 4 year old daughter, and researching and teaching about racial stratification.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

At the age of 17, I enrolled in the military to pay for college. Also, my family provided an incredible amount of support for me to become a first generation college student.