Monica Cornejo

Assistant Professor


Dr. Monica Cornejo is an Assistant Professor in Interpersonal Communication in the Department of Communication at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Cornejo’s research uses qualitative and quantitative methodologies to examine the structural barriers that lead to inequities among undocumented immigrants, how undocumented immigrants draw on communication identity management and advocacy strategies to challenge those barriers, and how those strategies relate to undocumented immigrants’ health and wellbeing.

Her research has been published in leading journals in the field of Communication such as Journal of Communication, Health Communication, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Journal of Applied Communication Research.In addition to publishing in flagship and top tier journals in and outside the field of Communication (e.g., Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology), Dr. Cornejo has received a top paper award from the Interpersonal Communication Division at the International Communication Association and another one from the Health Communication Division at the National Communication Association. As a doctoral student, Dr. Cornejo received 12 different funding opportunities (e.g., grants, scholarships, fellowships), totaling $104,000.

Research Focus

Dr. Cornejo’s research interests center on understanding: (1) how the structural barriers that undocumented immigrants face result in different economic, educational, social, and health inequities; (2) how such barriers prompt certain communication identity management and advocacy communication strategies, and (3) what those strategies mean for undocumented immigrants’ wellbeing. To build knowledge in these three areas, Dr. Cornejo utilizes qualitative (e.g., semi-structured interviews and audio-recorded dyadic conversations) and quantitative (e.g., cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys) methodologies, while grounding her research in theory and undocumented immigrants’ lived experiences. To ensure that her findings reach immigrant communities, stakeholders, and allies, Dr. Cornejo co-founded The Communication and Empowerment Collaborative (CEC) alongside her colleague and advisor, Dr. Jennifer Kam.

Teaching Focus

Dr. Cornejo focuses on teaching students about different ways in which interpersonal communication can reduce or create disparities and inequities in the United States (e.g., discrimination towards sexual orientation minorities and immigrant communities), as well as the strategies members of minoritized communities (and allies, co-conspirators, families) utilize to challenge the disparities and inequities that position minoritized group members in a second-class position.


 Cornejo, M., Kam, J. A., & Afifi, T. (2021). Discovering one’s undocumented immigration status through family disclosures: The perspectives of U.S. college students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Journal of Applied Communication Research.

 Kam, J. A., Cornejo, M., & Marcoulides, K. (2021). A latent profile analysis of undocumented college students’ protection-oriented family. Journal of Communication.

 Kam, J. A., Cornejo, M., Mendez Murillo, R., & Afifi, T. (in press). Conceptualizing and communicating allyship from the perspective of college students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

LSP Courses - Fall 2024