Professor studies Latino population

By Adriana Oviedo


Located in South Trenton is Chambersburg, a diverse immigrant community with a growing Latino population, which was unknown to Rachel Adler, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the College. She had heard of the neighborhood’s famous Italian dishes and wanted to taste for herself, but instead noticed a change that caught her attention. A multitude of Latino establishments now adorned the streets of the town she once knew to be primarily dominated by the Italian community, a change that came about in the 1990s according to Adler.

This rise in the population of Latinos sparked Adler’s interest and from there on, Chambersburg became the focus of what is now an ongoing academic study of the migration of Latinos across Trenton. As a cultural anthropologist, Adler has studied the migration of Latinos and deemed Chambersburg a point of interest for her ongoing academic research with a group of students from the College.

“Chambersburg is a well-defined neighborhood and close to campus,” she said when explaining why she chose to study this particular area.

So far, Adler and a group of students from her Anthropology-390 class, “Student-Faculty Research,” have interviewed key leaders in the Trenton community as well as health care providers. They are looking at Trenton in terms of Latino health needs and studying just how many immigrant Latinos have accessed health care services.

“There is a problem with health literacy and people knowing and understanding that they can access what they need (without fear),” Adler said.

Current research has shown a trend of common denominators across the Latino community, some of which include high blood pressure, diabetes, alcoholism and mental health issues. Research has also brought light to the stigma of seeking medical attention for mental health illness.

Adler, who at the moment is studying to obtain her nurse practitioner license, has been motivated to help the area of Chambersburg by giving aide and guidance to the Latino population.

“My dream is to have a clinic,” she said. She does not know if she will establish her own location, but she plans on making it public and accessible, holding her services in churches.

“I want to provide direct service to people on a weekly basis,” she said. “We will secure grant funding in order to do that and I want to get students involved interested in health.”

She plans on educating the Latino community across Trenton about health service accessibility, as well as helping them gain access to legal service in general.

When the research first began, she witnessed regular raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement into homes where threats of deportation and arrests were common. People did not want to leave their homes, which made Adler want to not just study, but help them on many different levels.

Adler has several friends and contacts who are immigration rights lawyers and who will inform the people of their rights. Through research involving Latino immigrants, she noticed, “They are a vulnerable population. Because of the way the laws are structured, many of them live in the shadows and cannot adjust their status. They are frightened.”

The professor and her group plan on conducting a long-term study in the shift and migration of the Latino community as the years progress.

Adler concluded, “I’ll be there for a long time.”