Graduate Student Research Spotlight: Itzel Nayelli Contreras (Applied Anthropology)




My research investigates the impact of the new permit system and the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of eleven Latino/a street vendors in Los Angeles through remote ethnographic methodologies.

Why is your research important? Who will your research benefit?

Street vending permits in Los Angeles became available a few months before the March 2020 lockdowns. In addition to the health and economic implications brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Latino/a street food vendors in Los Angeles are facing high permitting and equipment costs that make it difficult for them to enter into the formal economy. By addressing the issues of the new street vending legislation in Los Angeles, the knowledge generated by this study can benefit Latino/a street food vendors about their rights as micro-entrepreneurs.

How has your research experience enriched your time at CSULB?

I have been attending CSULB since I was a freshman, but I experienced the most personal and professional growth as a graduate student. I learned to become comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and do things that might seem scary or impossible. My favorite quote that got me through my program was, “It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.” Because of this open mindset, I learned new skills and gained many opportunities along the way.

Do you have any advice for others wanting to get involved in research?

Network with like-minded people! Use the resources our campus has to offer, e.g. attend workshops, utilize the services at the campus library and database, and talk to your classmates and professors. Be passionate about the research topic you will be pursuing because that’s all you will ever read, write, and talk about. And when in doubt, ask for help. Research is also a collaborative process, so do not struggle alone with your project.