Student Spotlight – Maggie Dent

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Maggie Dent!

Maggie Dent majors in Global Studies and minors in Global Health and is in our Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP). The title of her project is “Gendered Care Work Migration: Nursing and Globalization.” She focuses on what it means to be a care worker in our globalized world. Her best piece of advice is to take your project one step at a time!

How did you first get interested in your research project?

I first encountered the idea of gendered care work migration in my Introduction to Global Studies class during my Sophomore year. It was an idea that stuck with me because I immediately related to the idea, yet I had never had a term to describe the concept. As I looked more into it, I became enthralled with how relevant it was to my everyday life, yet it was so overlooked. Nurses, nannies, cleaners, sex workers: these are all care workers and many of them are immigrant women. As a Global Studies student I wanted to explore how larger patterns of interconnection have fostered the growth of a so-called “care economy” and the ethical dilemmas that come with extracting care from other countries. My interest in Global Health led me to focus on nurses as care workers and how the Global North has come to rely on foreign-born and foreign-trained nurses to run our healthcare systems.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most excited aspect of my research has been reading the vast amounts of literature on different migration patterns throughout the world. I’ve read articles from the Philippines, Italy, Georgia, Latvia, China, the United Kingdom, and the US who all have something unique to say about care workers migration. I feel like I have learned so much from these authors and truly gotten a global view on the issue. It has been an amazing experience getting to dive so deep into one issue and see the nuances and criticisms it has drawn. Reading others research has made me a better writer and scholar.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

One thing that has surprised me is how supportive the research community can be. I was very nervous to embark on my research project because it was such an independent assignment, but actually I have gotten so much help from the people around me and it has made it feel way more manageable. My advisor, the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, and my fellow students have always been so helpful to me and truly want me to succeed which makes the process not only easier but also more fun.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

My main piece of advice for future UCLA student researchers is to take your project one step at a time. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about a year long research project, but working with your advisor to create a schedule and timeline will really help to break down the process and make it super manageable! Also remember that there are so many other student researchers having the same struggles that you are and you aren’t alone. Reach out to them for help!

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope that my research can help to shed light on a truly important migration phenomenon taking place around us. Oftentimes care workers are overlooked because their labor is undervalued or deskilled. In fact, they are some of the most important workers in the labor force and they are not recognized for the amazing work that they do. Immigrant women are doing jobs that few native-born workers want, but they are doing it while being exploited, underpaid, and disrespected. I hope that my research will make people think about what it means to be a care worker in our globalized world.