Mexican American Studies website
  • Location: EDCC 2.216B
  • Phone: 956.665.3212
  • Email:

Mexican American Studies Faculty

The Mexican American Studies program is comprised of faculty from five different colleges. The Advisory Board is a group of faculty dedicated to the strengthening and overall success of Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas-Pan American. In early 2008, Dr. Stephanie Alvarez (Modern Languages and Literature) and Dr. Sonia Hernandez (History & Philosophy) began meeting to revise the curriculum for the Mexican American Heritage Program major and minor. Dr. Jennifer Mata (History & Philosophy) Edna Ochoa (Modern Languages and Literature) and Emmy Pérez (English) then joined this effort to revitalize this important area of study in the Fall of 2008; Dr. Marci McMahon (English) joined the Advisory Board in the spring of 2009. The Advisory Board submitted the newly revised interdisciplinary degree plan to the University Curriculum Committee and received approval in late Spring of 2009. This formally changed the program from Mexican American Heritage to Mexican American Studies, and revised the MAS minor. This group of faculty has also been successful in aligning the major to South Texas College’s Associate Degree in Mexican American Studies. The group has also been pro-active in compiling a list of all UTPA courses related to the Mexican American and Latina/o experience and plans to identify all faculty members with research and teaching expertise in this area in the hopes of creating faculty affiliates to MAS. The MAS Advisory Board has also approved a Graduate Certificate in Mexican American Studies.

Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, Founding Member & MAS Advisory Board Member

Modern Languages & Literature

Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, earned her PhD in Spanish from the University of Oklahoma. She is the recipient of the UT Board of Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Her teaching and research interests include U.S. Latin@ literature and cultural studies, contemporary Latin American literature, identity politics, and critical pedagogy for the Latin@ student. Her essay “¡?Qué, qué?! Transculturación and Tato Laviera’s Spanglish Poetics” appears in CENTRO: Journal for the Center of Puerto Rican Studies. The same essay was recently re-published as a book chapter in Spanglish, edited by Ilán Stavans. Furthermore, she is the author of two forthcoming essays; “La(s) Mirada(s) y lengua(s) aviesas del bilingüe: El caso del poeta nuyorican Tato Laviera.” in La página, edited by Iris Zavala and “Su última manipulación: La polémica sobre los últimos años de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz” in Traspasando el umbral de la palabra. Estudios críticos de literatura y lenguaje. Eds. Alma Silvia Rodríguez and Lino García. She is also currently co-editing along with William Luis a collection of essays on the work of Tato Laviera. She is the director of Cosecha Voices, a critical pedagogy project designed for students from migrant farmworking families to document their voice. Emmy Pérez, English

Dr. Sonia Hernandez, Founding Member & MAS Advisory Board Member

History & Philosophy

Dr. Hernandez is an associate professor in the Department of History & Philosophy. A native of the Rio Grande Valley, she earned a Ph.D in Latin American History from the University of Houston. Her teaching and research interests include the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, Chicana/o history, intersections of gender and labor, and Modern Mexico. She is the author of "Malinche in Cross-Border Historical Memory" in Patricia Seed, ed. Jose Limon and La Malinche (UT-Austin Press, 2008), "Mujeres, Género y Revolución en Tamaulipas" coord. Jesús Hernández (México: Gobierno de Tamaulipas, 2010), "Cooperación de los Sexos Para el Bien de la Nación: Relaciones de Genero en el Tamaulipas PosRevolucionario, 1920-1930," Revista Internacional de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Vol. XXI , num. 1 Enero-Junio, 2010, and "Women's Labor and Activism in the Greater Mexican Borderlands," in Arnoldo De Leon, ed., War Along the Border: The Mexican Revolution and Tejano Communities (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, December 2011) (winner of the Robert Calvert Prize for Best Book on Texas/Southwestern History). Her book, Working Women into the Borderlands: Labor, Gender, and Capital in the Making of the Mexican Northeast, 1880-1940 places women's labor and activism at the heart of the complex process of modernization and industrialization in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and the greater South Texas region (Texas A&M University Press ‘Connecting the Greater West’ Series, 2014). She is the 2012 recipient of the UT System Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award, 2013 New Faculty Mentor Award, and has been named in the “Top 14 Hispanic Professors in Texas” (2013). Besides working as an advisory board member of Mexican American Studies, she is Co-Principal Investigator of CHAPS (Community Historical Archaeology Project with the Schools) a program that is "designed to discover the untapped cultural and historical resources of South Texas, bring them to light through research and develop them for education, tourism, and community pride." (

Marci R. McMahon received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California with affiliations in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. She is an associate professor in the Department of English and Mexican American Studies Program. Her courses focus on Chicana/o and Latina/o literature, cultural studies, gender studies, and theater and performance. She is the author of Domestic Negotiations: Gender, Nation, and Self-Fashioning in US Mexicana and Chicana Literature and Art (Rutgers University Pressís series Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States, 2013), which received the National Association for Chicana and Chicana Studies (NACCS) Tejas Non-Fiction Book Award in 2014. Her transdisciplinary research in Chicana/o and Latina/o studies appears in AztlŠn: A Journal of Chicano Studies; Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of MALCS; Frontiers: A Journal of Womenís Studies; and the Journal of Equity & Excellence in Education. Her latest book manuscript, Listening to Latina/o Theater: Staging Sound in US Latina/o Theater and Performance, explores how Latina/o drama utilizes sound design and vocal bodies to engage audiences with recurring debates about nationhood, immigration, and gender. By putting the aural and sonic to the foreground of analysis in Latina/o theater and performance studies, the book intervenes in a scholarly emphasis on visual representation that has characterized US Latina/o theater studies.

Dr. Francisco Guajardo, MAS Advisory Board Member



Francisco Guajardo is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Texas Pan American. He is from the border, having been born in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas and raised in the rural community of Elsa, Texas. He is a graduate of Edcouch-Elsa High School, where he also worked as a teacher and administrator, and is a founding member of the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development. He is also a founding member of the Center for Bilingual Studies at UTPA, and a founder of the Community Learning Exchange, a national initiative that works to bring community together. His research agenda focuses on community leadership and community building.

Dr. Jessica Lavariega Monforti, MAS Advisory Board Member

Political Science

Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti is an associate professor of political science and senior faculty research associate at the Center for Survey Research at the University of Texas - Pan American. She specializes in public policy analysis, race/ethnicity and politics and survey research. While much of her research focuses on the differential impact of public policy according to race, gender, and ethnicity, she is specifically interested in the political incorporation and representation of Latinos, immigrants, and women. Her latest research examines how major forces such as technology, the military, and immigration policy impact and are impacted by Latino youth. Dr. Lavariega Monforti has conducted research on Latino voting patterns, Hispanic candidates, English language and immigration policy, gender difference within and across racial/ethnic groups, as well as Latin@s and use of social media in Latin@ politics. Recent publications include articles in Social Science Quarterly, the Social Science Journal, PS: Political Science, the Latino/a Research Review, and the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy. She also edited a book with William E. Nelson, Jr. entitled Black and Latino/a Politics: Issues in Political Development in the United States. She currently serves as the Assistant Dean, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Edna Ochoa, Founding Member

Modern Languages

Dr. Edna Ochoa is an assistant professor in the department of Modern Languages and Literature. She is the 2009 College of Arts and Humanities recipient of the Provost Award for Latin American Studies. Her teaching and research interests include Chicana/o Literature, Creative Writing, and Spanish language journalism. She earned a bachelor of journalism from the Escuela “Carlos Septién García” in Mexico City and her Master’s and Ph.D in Spanish from the University of Houston. She is the author of poetry books: Respiración de raíces (Toluca, México: La tinta de alcatraz, 1993), Sombra para espejos (Toluca, México: H. Ayuntamiento de Toluca, 1989), Ruinas (México: Luzbel, 1987) (book of drama) and La cerca circular (México: SEI, 1986) (book of short stories). She has written numerous plays including “La Jacobina” Teatro para estudiantes de teatro (México: Árbol Editorial, 1996) and “La Boda de la Mujer Maravilla” Teatro Joven de México (México: Tierra Adentro, 1992). Her translations to Spanish include Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez (Arte Público Press, University of Houston, 2004) and How the Frog and His Friend Saved Humanity by Víctor Villaseñor (Arte Público Press, University of Houston, 2005). She is an active participant in Cosecha Voices and her plays have showcased at numerous venues including the College of Arts and Humanities yearly FESTIBA.

Dr. Emmy Pérez, Founding Member & MAS Advisory Board Member


Emmy Pérez, Assistant Professor of English/creative writing, is the author of a poetry collection, Solstice (Swan Scythe Press 2003). She holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of Southern California. Her poetry, poetics essay, and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, New York Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Story, Blue Mesa Review, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press 2007), A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press 2011) and other publications. She is a contributing editor for The Writer's Chronicle (AWP), Latino Poetry Review, and Texas Books in Review. A recipient of poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she also received the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation for her fiction writing. In addition to university teaching, she has taught creative writing in several adult and juvenile detention centers over the years. She and UTPA students have completed service learning projects at local detention centers and have produced poetry publications of original writings from the centers. She also initiated an annual celebration in honor of Gloria E. Anzaldúa on campus, beginning in 2008, and organized, with students, community members, and colleagues, “El Retorno: El Valle Celebra Nuestra Gloria” (in collaboration with UT San Antonio’s “El Mundo Zurdo: International Conference on the Work and Life of Gloria E. Anzaldúa”) held on the UTPA campus on the fifth anniversary of Anzaldúa’s passing in May 2009. She has also coordinated several readings, lectures, and presentations on campus featuring visiting Chican@ and Latin@ authors and scholars. A member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop in San Antonio, founded by Sandra Cisneros, for socially-engaged writers, she is also a CantoMundo poetry fellow. She also received the 2009 Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral writing award.




UT-Pan American has over 50 faculty from various colleges engaged in Mexican American, Latin@, and/or Latin American research. Some of these affiliates are:

Maritza de la Trinidad, History, MAS faculty affiliate

Alexander Stehn, Philosophy, MAS faculty affiliate

Amy Cummins, English, MAS faculty affiliate

Mariana Alessandri, Philosophy, MAS faculty affiliate

Jamie Starling, History, MAS faculty affiliate

Margaret Dorsey, Anthropology, MAS faculty affiliate

Cynthia Paccacerqua, Philosophy, MAS faculty affiliate

Richard Phillips, Art, MAS faculty affiliate

Christopher Milk, Billingual Education, MAS faculty affiliate

Zulmaris Diaz, Billingual Education, MAS faculty affiliate

Servando Hinojosa, Anthropology, MAS faculty affiliate

Leila Hernandez, Art, MAS faculty affiliate

Robert Bradley, Art, MAS faculty affiliate