Carolina A. Villamil, MSW
M.S.W. The Catholic University of America
B. S. Florida State University
Raised in a blended family of Cuban exiles, my family’s immigration experience compelled me to pursue political science studies in Tallahassee, Florida where I worked with a lobbyist while attending school. After graduating and working in the corporate sector for a few years and seeking a more purposeful career, I pursued the field of social work. Given my experience growing up in an immigrant family, I was compelled to work with Latino immigrant women and families, develop an understanding of the psychosocial and contextual factors contributing to their life circumstances, and influence social change through research.
My MSW program provided rich social work field experiences and skills working with minority youth in the criminal justice and child welfare systems and providing clinical psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, including Latino immigrants. My MSW clinical practice career began in a domestic violence shelter for women and families in Montgomery County, Maryland, a highly diverse region of the US. My primary responsibility at the shelter was providing individual psychotherapy to women from diverse cultural backgrounds and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and gender-based violence. Working with these women in a transitional family residential setting, further cultivated my interests in examining the influence of Latino family culture, social environment and gender on risk and protective factors of substance use and depression among children of immigrant families.
My current research interests are in behavioral and biological determinants of health disparities in Latino families. Specifically, I plan to explore how these compare across immigrant generations within families, vis-a-vis culture, gender, and environmental contexts. In my doctoral studies, I will focus on combining issues of culture, context, and gender, to better understand how the life trajectories of Latino families influence risk factors or mitigate problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. My goal is to use quantitative analytic skills and social network research methods, as tools for understanding parent-child acculturation differences and Latino family health disparities, focusing on the relationship of family dyads and social environmental contexts of Latino adolescents.