Tharuna Kalaivanan

Tharuna Kalaivanan

Tharuna Kalaivanan

Graduate Professional Assistant

Sociology: Higher Education; Workplace; Culture; Social Stratification; Student Experiences; Lived Experiences; Race, Class, and Gender; Identity; Second-Generation Immigrants; First-Generation College Students; Asian Americans; Women; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Belonging; Educational Transitions; Qualitative Methods; Mixed-Methods; Applied Research; Evaluation.

Tharuna Kalaivanan is a PhD student in the Public and Applied Sociology Program at George Mason University. She graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2020. She is also an Honors College Alum. She is a co-founder of the Social Science Research Lab where she mentors students on qualitative research methods and techniques. This multi-disciplinary lab carves out vital space for both undergraduate and graduate students to learn and practice the skills of social science research in a collaborative environment.

Her research interests include immigrants and first-generation college students, focusing how their experiences are shaped by race, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of identity in higher education and the workplace. Currently she serves as the Secretary in the Public Sociology Association where she plays an active role in encouraging students to explore, learn, and do public sociology through pursuits devoted to activism around social problems on-campus and beyond. Kalaivanan currently is an instructor for the Honors College at George Mason University where she teaches a course on first-generation college students. The course provides students with opportunities to think through the challenges faced by first-generation college students as well as the forms of cultural wealth they bring to college from a range of perspectives.

Kalaivanan is also the Graduate Professional Assistant for Data and Inclusion in the Honors College. In her role, she focuses on using evidence-based strategies to support inclusion for Honors College students, especially those from historically underserved and underrepresented populations. She collaborates with the Director of Data Analytics and Assessment and other Honors College faculty and staff in designing research instruments (i.e., surveys, focus-group questionnaires, interview protocols, etc.) to support the college’s mission.

Selected Publications

Kalaivanan, Tharuna, Lily Krietzberg, Blake R. Silver, and Bianca Kwan. 2022. “The Senior-Year Transition: Gendered Experiences of Second-Generation Immigrant College Students.” Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education, 15(1), 21-40.

Silver, Blake R., Freddy Lopez, Fanni Farago, and Tharuna Kalaivanan. 2022. “Focused, Exploratory, or Vigilant: Reproduction, Mobility, and the Self-Narratives of Second-Generation Immigrant Youth.” Qualitative Sociology, 45(1), 123-147.

Silver, Blake R., Lily Krietzberg, and Tharuna Kalaivanan. 2021. “Transitioning OUT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Students’ Concerns in the Senior Year.” Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 33(2), 9-27.

Silver, Blake R., Freddy Lopez, Tharuna Kalaivanan, and Lily Krietzberg. 2021. “Second-Generation Immigrant Students and the Senior-Year Transition.” Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 58(4), 388-400.

Silver, Blake R., Tharuna Kalaivanan, Lily Krietzberg, and Jordan Hawkins. 2020. “Distance, Alignment, and Boundaries: How Second-Generation Immigrant Seniors Negotiate Parental Involvement.” Journal of College Student Development, 61(5) 558-573

Courses Taught

Honors 110: Principles of Research and Inquiry, Fall 2021

Honors 131: First-gen College Students, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023



Ph.D. in Sociology, George Mason University (in progress)

B.S. in Psychology, George Mason University (2020)