Roselia Mendez Murillo wins Distinguished Award

Roselia Mendez Murillo Wins Distinguished Award

The Department of Communication Studies congratulates Roselia Mendez Murillo on becoming the 2024 recipient of the Ellen A. Wartella Distinguished Research Award for her article, “Relational maintenance among separated Latina/o/x/e immigrant families: Exploring the lived experiences of parents and children.” This award is given out annually for an outstanding publication by a member of Moody College. It is a significant accomplishment to receive this award this early in one’s time at UT Austin.

In her research, she explored migration-related separation in which a parent migrates to the United States and their child(ren) stay behind in the native country. This was the first time Roselia looked at the separation and reunification of Latina/o/x/e families. However, as a child, she experienced immigration related separation from both of her parents and siblings, so this topic has always been intriguing to her. She left this research project with admiration and deep respect for immigrant families. Despite being forced to endure these heart-wrenching experiences, they continue to thrive under new conditions. 

Under the lens of the long distance relational maintenance model (Merolla, 2010), Roselia and her colleagues explored how separated parents and their children maintain their relationships while considering structural and cultural elements. Her findings were that before separation, parents were filled with emotional distress from anticipating the loss of their children. This separation often meant that the separated part would not communicate with the child about the upcoming separation. In turn, many children did not find out about the upcoming separation until it had already occurred and was likely from their primary caregiver (e.g., other parents, grandmother). During separation, parents would use reassurances, such as reminding themselves that the migration would bring upon various opportunities, to cope with the emotional distress of being away from family. Because separated children would anxiously await the return of the parent, the separated parent would often engage in false hope, meaning telling the child they would return soon, despite knowing it was false. When possible, the parents and child preferred video chatting to contacting each other. However, this was limited due to the lack of access to technology and literacy barriers.

Once again, Congratulations Roselia on earning the 2024 Ellen A. Wartella Distinguished Award!  The college will present the award more formally to Roselia at a ceremony later this spring.