Driving, Immigration, and Power

Meet political science major Mariana Beyer Chapa ’21

September 29, 2021

Major: political science

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Thesis Advisers: Prof. Mariela Daby and Prof. Tamara Metz

Thesis: “Explaining State Variation in Issuing of Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants in the United States

What it’s about: Currently, only 15 states and the District of Columbia grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. My thesis explains why only some states have a “driver’s licenses for all” policy by comparing California, Utah, and Arizona. I analyze bills, legislative debates, and newspaper coverage regarding this subject to determine which framings of the issue succeed in contributing to the implementation of this policy.

What it’s really about: Which arguments are the most effective at convincing policymakers that undocumented immigrants should be able to obtain driver’s licenses?

In high school: I was very shy, very reserved, very nerdy.

Influential professor: Prof. Mariela Daby encourages students to really understand and engage with the methodology of each paper, which contributed to my original interest in doing research. When I mentioned that I was interested in research, Prof. Daby told me about an opportunity to be her research assistant. It was a great experience that taught me a lot and prepared me for my thesis work by learning how to go through sources and organize them. She was also extremely helpful and supportive as I applied to graduate school.

Cool stuff I got to do: Volunteered at the Reed Pantry, helped organize the Day of the Dead celebration with International Student Services.

Influential book: Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson was one of the first books that made me think about the role of institutions in society.

Concept that blew my mind: Cytoplasmic inheritance, maternal effect, and a lot of other things I learned in intro bio. I considered being a bio major for a second because the material in that class was so interesting.

Ability I developed at Reed: By taking classes that require active participation and with supportive professors and faculty, I learned to feel confident in sharing my knowledge and contributing to discussions.

Awards, fellowships, grants: Commendation for Academic Excellence, Alta Corbett Summer Collaborative Research Fellowship, Summer Internship Award, Summer Opportunity Fellowship Award.

Help along the way: The staff at the Center for Life Beyond Reed were extremely kind, supportive, and helpful in helping me secure internships, funding for activities, and in applying to grad school. Funding from such sources as financial aid, the Career Advancement Fund, the Summer Internship Award, and the Summer Opportunity Fellowship Award also helped me partake in activities which advanced my career.

How Reed changed me: Being in a supportive environment surrounded by open-minded people allowed me to grow into a more confident version of myself.

What’s next: Working as a research assistant for a professor at UC San Diego who is one of the nation’s leading experts in immigration.