UNM, a Hispanic serving institution, celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15, 2023. The red links below will take you to more information. Scroll down to read about UNM Hispanic organizations, events, scholars, the history of Hispanic Heritage Month, research, news and organizations.
"El Centro de la Raza was created as a result of the Chicano movement of the 1960’s. El Centro was created by and for students under the umbrella of Chicano Studies to ensure that the university adequately addressed the needs of the largest and fastest growing ethnic population at the University of New Mexico. El Centro received its first special project state funding in 1994, the same year that Governor Bruce King proclaimed that September 16 and 17, 1994 represented the “Hispanic Student Service Days.” In 1995, Raza students at UNM organized to change the name from Hispanic Student Services to El Centro de la Raza to represent the intent by which El Centro had been created in the first place. The intent for El Centro was to serve the Chicano/Mexicano student population which had suffered the greatest challenges in coping with the social and cultural capital needed to navigate and succeed in higher education. In 2006, House Bill 2 and House Bill 799 of the New Mexico state legislature provided the following statute, “El Centro de la Raza shall provide training, technical assistance, research assistance, student academic support in the form of instruction and tutoring and information dissemination for Hispanic student recruitment and retention.” Learn more
El Centro de la Raza Director Rosa Isela Cervantes writes, "It is with great sympathy and respect that I write these words. After 50 years of excellence and social justice, El Centro continues to serve our UNM students. We humble ourselves to the struggles that our communities experienced and led in the 1960s to bring about social and economic justice. Those struggles paved the way for places like El Centro to exist and to support the educational experience of Raza students. Because of the gains for inclusion and social justice, our gente has continued to move toward better education for our children, even though the system continues to fail us in many ways. We are confident that as the United States transitions to a more diverse society, our resilience will continue to move us in the right direction, even with the perils that inequality offers." Read her full message
"The Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico is an interdisciplinary program. The purpose of the department is to promote a critical understanding of Chicano/Hispano/Mexicano communities through teaching, research, and advocacy. Since our program resides at the flagship institution of the state that has the largest percentage of Hispanics in the country, this mission is integral to furthering the understanding of New Mexico’s present and the nation’s future.
Chicana and Chicano Studies accomplishes its mission by offering an undergraduate minor, promoting research, and establishing community partnerships. Curriculum and community engagement efforts focus on three areas:
Chicana/o cultural studies
Politics and social justice
The transnational U.S.-Mexico experience
The program offers courses on gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, arts and culture, political and social mobilization, immigration and citizenship, history and heritage, land grant studies, Chicana feminism, and queer studies. We address our three areas through a curriculum taught in both English and Spanish and maintain a regional and transnational focus on New Mexico, the U.S. Southwest, and Mexico. We view our partnerships with community and student organizations as central to our academic mission and our objectives for student learning."
Dr. Irene Vasquez "...holds the position of Founding Chair of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. Under her leadership, from 2013-2015, UNM established a Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies. She has a joint faculty position in Chicana and Chicano Studies and American Studies at UNM. She currently serves as the Department Chair in the Department of Chicana/o Studies. Vásquez specializes in the intersectional histories and politics of Mexican-descent populations in the Americas. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. and transnational social and political movements. She co-authored a book on the Chicana and Chicano Movement titled, Making Aztlan: Ideology and Culture of the Chicana and Chicano Movement: Ideology, 1966-1977, published by the University of New Mexico Press."
"UNM's Department of Spanish & Portuguese plays a vital role in the flagship university of a bilingual state, in teaching the languages, cultures, and literatures of the Hispanic and Portuguese worlds. We teach three basic language programs: Spanish as a Second Language, Spanish as a Heritage Language, and Brazilian Portuguese. Our undergraduate and graduate degrees offer concentrations in Hispanic Linguistics, Hispanic Literature (Peninsular and Spanish American), Hispanic Southwest Studies, and Portuguese. We boast several areas of distinction: An internationally ranked Hispanic Linguistics program, one of the first in the nation. A Southwest Studies program which offers everything from Colonial to Chicano literature, folklore, and cultural studies. A Spanish as a Heritage Language program that has been serving bilingual students since the 1960's. A Portuguese program which began in the 1940's. A literature program with strengths in medieval, renaissance, and modern Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Brazil. All our students enjoy opportunities for research, field work, and travel in their quest to professionalize their Spanish and Portuguese and engage a regional and global community."
"Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez (Department Chair, UNM Spanish and Portuguese) is an unrepentant border crosser, ex-dj, writer, painter, and academic. His literary work has been published in anthologies in Spain, Italy, Latin America and the United States, including Malos elementos. Relatos sobre la corrupción social (2012); En la frontera: i migliori raconti della letteratura chicana (2008); Pequeñas resistencias 4 (2005); Se habla español (2000); and Líneas aéreas (1998). ... He recently published a small chapbook with a selection of already published stories, Algún día te cuento las cosas que he visto. He has been invited to give readings from his work at universities and conferences in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, and the United States. His academic work on US/Mexico border cultures has been published in journals and anthologies in Mexico and the United States. He has also presented this work at international conferences." Read more
"The Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) fosters research and education within UNM about the cultures, languages, history, and societies of these world regions, and works to share UNM’s expertise and resources with partners including Central New Mexico Community College, K-12 schools, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Instituto Cervantes, and other organizations in the community. LAII’s efforts are sustained and bolstered by UNM's community of scholars whose research centers on Mexico, Central America, South America, the Spanish speaking Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal. Over one hundred and twenty faculty members at UNM conduct research and/or teach on these regions, representing a wide range of disciplines, interests, and approaches. The Institute facilitates this scholarship, provides a focal point for interdisciplinary discussions, and distributes resources to seed new research projects for faculty and their students. Drawing on university resources, and in partnership with outside funders, LAII helps departments recruit highly qualified faculty and students, and enables students to acquire new languages, conduct field research, and complete their degrees efficiently."
In Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month the Albuquerque Museum gives a Behind the Scenes Tour
Dr. Rosa Vallejos-Yopán, Professor of Lingistics, was recently awarded a 2023 UNM Women in Stem Award for her project “Attention Orientation and Syntactic Choices in the Amazon,” which will investigate the extent to which attention affects real-time discourse choices. "The work specifically explores the linguistic strategies employed in Secoya, an indigenous Amazonian language, to orient interlocutors towards specific pieces of information in the environment while ignoring competing details. Vallejos Yopán said the project contributes to the development of experimental fieldwork in remote locations and the unique challenges such work brings. “Over the last 20 years, I have conducted several interconnected projects driven by a desire to find a balance between my academic work and my commitment to the communities with whom I work,” Vallejos Yopán said. “Given the extractivist history of our field, for researchers of minoritized languages it is of utmost importance to approach our work from a collaborative framework to eradicate research practices that reinforce colonial mindsets. This award will allow me to continue to carry out projects and create language resources in collaboration with community members,” she said. Learn more
Dr. Adriana Molina Garzón, Assistant Professor of Education, was recently awarded a 2023 UNM Women in Stem Award for her project “Expanding Healthcare Access through Drone Technology and Its Welfare Effects on Rural Households,” which aims to understand the impacts of drone technology that supports access to medical supplies and facilitates the delivery of public health services in rural areas of Ghana. "This project includes exploring the effects on household welfare such as health, education, and productivity. It will also examine public-private partnerships that support the use of this technology. “As an early career scholar, I am very grateful for the support from the Advance at UNM Women in Stem Award,” Molina Garzon said. “This award enables me to conduct field data collection, prepare evidence to seek external funding in the future and strengthen networking opportunities around the issue of providing health services to remote rural areas, an issue of broad relevance with the potential for interdisciplinary collaborations.” Learn more
Dr. Damián Vergara Wilson, Professor in the department of Spanish and Portugese, is theCoordinator of Sabine Ulibarri Spanish as a Heritage Language Program. "His main areas of research and teaching are historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and sociology of language. One of his chief goals is to use these areas of study to support and inform the field of teaching of Spanish as a heritage language in the Southwest. A second goal is to advance research that examines the utility of usage-based theories of linguistic representation as accounting for language change and variation. He also applies a combination of his expertise as an expert witness in federal court cases involving bilingual interactions with police that result in miscommunications and ambiguity." " In Wilson’s Spanish as a Heritage Language class, students develop an appreciation of their heritage language. They learn about cultural connections, sharing experiences, background, and linguistic knowledge with one another." Learn more
Veronica Gonzales-Zamora, JD is Associate Professor of Law in the UNM School of Law. She "is a Latina lawyer in New Mexico who teaches primarily civil procedure I and II, ethics, poverty law, and appellate decision-making. She previously taught in UNM’s top-ranked Clinical Law Program, and as an adjunct professor, taught Indian Civil Rights, the Tribal Law Journal, and Appellate Moot Court. She was recently awarded the 2023 Project for NM Graduates of Color All-Around Support Award, which is awarded to a faculty member who prioritizes mentoring students of color." In the Spring of 2023, she was awarded an Outstanding Faculty of Colorby graduate students. "She mentors pre-law and law students, alumni, and candidates for law faculty with a focus on the unique needs and strengths of first-generation law students. Gonzales teaches civil procedure, ethics, poverty law, and appellate decision-making. Her scholarly work focuses on access to justice and economic justice. Among other things, she’s recognized for being an all-around inspiring faculty member and an impactful mentor, professor, advocate, role model, and leader within the Law School, especially for first-generation Mexican/Hispanic women."Learn more
"Dr. José Luis Serrano Nájera, recipient of the 2022 UNM Faculty of Color Mentoring Award is proud son of immigrant parents from Guerrero and Zacatecas by way of Mexicali, Baja California, México. ... Professor Serrano Nájera’s research foci are national and transnational Civil and Human Rights activism and social movements utilizing archival and oral history research methods. In the past, Professor Serrano Nájera’s publications have focused on advocacies, social movements, and armed insurrections countering colonial and imperial powers in U.S. and México during the modern era. In his teaching, Professor Serrano Nájera emphasizes cultural, political, social, and transnational topical foci, while at the same time working to achieve student learning objectives of understanding diversity, intersectionality, and the development of Chicana/o/x communities across the U.S." Learn more
"Dr. Carlos A. López Leiva, recipient of the 2022 UNM Faculty of Color All-Around Award, is an Associate Professor in Bilingual and Mathematics Education in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. Carlos’ work focuses on teaching and learning ecologies in intercultural educational spaces—regarding dynamics of social interactions, language uses and ideologies, task designs, relationship development, as well as what counts as mathematics—and how they mediate members’ participation in and meaning-making of mathematical practices, activity, and perceptions of self. These foci transfer into collaborative interdisciplinary funded/nonfunded research regarding: (1) Issues of Equity and Social Justice in Social Interactions, (2) Out-of-School Interdisciplinary Mathematics Teaching and Learning, (3) In-School Interdisciplinary Mathematics Teaching and Learning, and (4) Bilingual Teacher Preparation." Learn more
"Ana R. Alonso-Minutti is an Associate Professor of Music, a faculty affiliate of the Latin American and Iberian Institute, and a research associate of the Southwest Hispanic Research Instituteat the University of New Mexico...Alonso-Minutti’s scholarship focuses on experimental and avant-garde expressions, music traditions from Mexico and the US-Mexico border, and music history pedagogy. Among her research areas are Latina/Chicana feminist and queer theories, critical race studies, and decolonial methodologies....In addition to her scholarly work, Alonso-Minutti has written a number of pieces." She "...was recently awarded the biennial 2021Robert M. Stevenson Prize from The Society for Ethnomusicology for her piece Voces del desierto for a cappella choir. The prize honors ethnomusicologists who are also composers by awarding a prize for a single composition, an original musical work created by the applicant." Read more
Dr. "Francisco J. Galarte is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of New Mexico where he teaches courses in Chicanx, Latinx and transgender studies. ...His research brings transgender studies, Chicanx studies, Latinax studies, and queer studies into critical dialogue. In doing so, he expands these academic fields, transform the central issues of inquiry and contribute to ongoing conversations related to the study of race, gender and sexuality. His primary scholarly agenda is to examine the relationship between systems of racial formation and the lived experiences and cultural representations of racialized transgendered subjects. His first book, Brown Trans Figurations: Rethinking Race, Gender and Sexuality in Chicanx/Latinx Studies[has been published] with University of Texas Press, and is the inaugural book for the Latinx: The Future is Now book series edited by Nicole Guidotti-Hernández and Lorgia Garcia-Peña. The book explores how transgender analytics intervene or fail to intervene in the current reading practices that exist in Chicana/o Studies for making sense of processes of racialization, gendered violence, queer sexualities, masculinities and femininities." Read more
"Dr. Jesse Alemán is a Professor of English and a Presidential Teaching Fellow at the University of New Mexico. [In 2022, he was named the Willa Cather Distingushed Lecturer.] His work covers nineteenth-century American literature and US Latino/a literary histories. He has published two dozen articles and essays, including recent pieces in American Literary History, The Cambridge History of Latina/o Literature, andLatino/a Literature in the Classroom....He is the recipient of the University of New Mexico’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Award for Teaching Excellence; the American Indian Student Services’ STARS Award; the Wertheim Award for Outstanding English Faculty member; and he’s been named Outstanding Faculty Member by the English Graduate Student Association and UNM’s Peer Mentoring for Graduate Students of Color. As a former faculty member of Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English, he was awarded the Ruth and Lillian Marino Endowed Chair for teaching excellence, and in 2016, UNM named him a Presidential Teaching Fellow, the highest teaching recognition the university bestows to its faculty." While serving as interim dean of graduate studies, Dr. Alemán was awarded the2023-2024 Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residenceat theAmerican Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, Mass.Read more
Dr. Cheo Torresretired in July 2021 from the University of New Mexico. He has served as the Vice President for Student Affairs for the past 25 years. "James Holloway, UNM provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said he credits Torres with helping bring the Student Affairs division together under common purpose, conceiving of new programs for students, while growing the resources needed to make those conceptions real." Some of his accomplishments include developing the Traditional Medicine without Borders Curanderismo course, the Student Affairs Fellowship Program, the Mezquite Golf Tournament, and the Weekly Chit-Chat. He was recently awarded the Erna S. Fergusson Award by the UNM Alumni Association, which recognizes exceptional accomplishments and/or commitment or distinguished service to The University of New Mexico.
Dr. Philip B. (Felipe) Gonzales is a Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. His book Politica: Nuevomexicanos and American Political Incorporation, 1821-1910"...is a tour de force of political history in the nineteenth-century U.S.–Mexico borderlands that reinterprets colonization, reconstructs Euro-American and Nuevomexicano relations, and recasts the prevailing historical narrative of territorial expansion and incorporation in North American imperial history." He recently co-edited Trumpism, Mexican America, and the Struggle for Latinx Citizenshipwith Drs Renato Rosaldo and Mary Louise Pratt which examines "...a new phase of presidential politics in relation to what went before and asks what new political possibilities emerged from this dramatic chapter in our history. What role did anti-Mexicanism and attacks on Latinx people and their communities play in Trump’s political rise and presidential practices? Driven by the overwhelming political urgency of the moment, the contributors to this volume seek to frame Trumpism’s origins and political effects. Contributors include Cristina Beltrán, Alyshia Gálvez, Michelle García, Tomás R. Jiménez, Davíd Montejano, Ángela Valenzuela, and Arely M. Zimmerman."
"Frankie Flores (They) is a first-generation Mexicano from Santa Rosa, Chihuahua. They grew up in Albuquerque, NM in the East San Jose barrio. Frankie grew up in a community surrounded by Queer and Trans people, thus propelling their commitment to Trans justice, especially for Trans women of color. Frankie is currently the Director for the University of New Mexico's LGBTQ Resource Center."
"During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor the diverse history of generations of Latinos, whose aspirations and achievements have shaped the soul of our Nation. I have often said that America can be defined in one word: possibilities. The Hispanic community has always embodied that ideal. It lives in the dreams of those who have only just arrived here and in the legacy of families who have been here for centuries. Latinos have helped chart America’s course since our start — as doctors and engineers; artists and entrepreneurs; and leaders in science, business, labor, government, and military and across grassroots movements. Their faith and drive have pushed our country to grow, prosper, and pursue its highest ideals." Read the full proclamation
"Education beyond high school should be a ticket to the middle class — and across our Nation, more than 500 Hispanic-Serving Institutions have helped to make that promise real, opening the doors of opportunity a bit wider for generations of Hispanic college students. During National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, we celebrate their important work. Today’s students are part of the most talented, resilient, and diverse generation in our history. But while creativity and work ethic are abundant, not everyone has an equal shot yet. That is why Hispanic-Serving Institutions are so essential. Two-thirds of all Hispanic college students in America attend one; they provide a quality education and empower underserved students — including Dreamers and first-generation college students — to earn degrees and build better lives for their families. And with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to effectively end affirmative action, their work is as critical as ever." Read the full proclamation
"Originally established in 1990, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics (Initiative) was re-established in 2021 through executive order by President Joe Biden, who expanded the Initiative’s scope to center on advancing educational equity and economic opportunity for Latino and Hispanic students, families, and communities. The nation’s future prosperity and global leadership across sectors is intrinsically tied to the success of Hispanic and Latino students, and their success is a priority of this Administration."
National Hispanic Heritage Month
"Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community.
Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week”, but it was later extended to a month in 1988. Since then, HHM has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. The month also celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day that is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This year’s theme is Building Prosperous and Healthy Communities. Building upon the theme will different weeks of action focusing on how the Administration has been supporting the Latino community:
September 15: Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-Off Day
Week of September 19th: Jobs and the Economy
Week of September 26th: Climate
Week of October 3rd: Education and Investing in HSIs
"People who identify with the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” are those who classify themselves in one of the specific Hispanic or Latino categories listed on the decennial census questionnaire and various Census Bureau survey questionnaires – “Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano” or ”Puerto Rican” or “Cuban” – as well as those who indicate that they are “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” The 2010 Census question on Hispanic origin included five separate response categories and one area where respondents could write in a specific Hispanic origin group. The first response category was intended for respondents who do not identify as Hispanic. The remaining response categories (“Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano”; “Puerto Rican”; “Cuban”; and “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin”) and write-in answers can be combined to create the OMB category of Hispanic."
The National Museum of the American Latino provides a variety of resources about National Hispanic Heritage Month. "The National Museum of the American Latino observes Hispanic Heritage Month between September 15 and October 15 each year to celebrate the Latino community."
"September 15 to October 15 is celebrated nationwide as National Hispanic Heritage Month. It traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries. During this month and throughout the year, we, and our partners, share history, heritage, and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Americans of past and present."
"We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success. Discover documents, exhibits, films, blog posts and more from the National Archives and Presidential Libraries that highlight Hispanic culture."
"Asked to serve their country in time of war, Hispanic Americans displayed courage and valor in the face of adversity. Familiar with discrimination back home, many saw their service as affirming the ideals of democracy. In this presentation, the Veterans History Project recounts their inspirational stories."
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Special Programs in September and October
"Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 and it is a great time to learn more about the diversity of Hispanic and Latina/e/o/x experiences and cultures. In 2020, the U.S. Hispanic population was an estimated 62 million out of the total U.S. population of 331.4 million.
We know that just one descriptor can hardly capture the spirit and cultures of so many people who descend from a vast geography that includes present-day Southwestern U.S. states to the southern most tip of South America, and nearly every present-day country and island in between. This is why you'll see many different ways in which people describe themselves and their heritage. You'll see the terms Latina, Latino, and their non-gendered versions Latine and Latinx. You might also see people identify as Hispanic, Chicano, Tejano, Taino, Isleños, Boricua, Afro-Latino, in addition to the many who identify with any one of the 22 nations and Puerto Rico that comprise Latin America. We hope you see an array of these voices and stories in this collection of programs and documentaries."
"Each year, people across the United States observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating and reflecting on the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans with ancestry from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. While Hispanic Heritage Month is only 30 days, the museum’s curators, researchers, and educators work with communities across the country to document and share Latino histories every day of the year. As part of the museum’s commitment to sharing Hispanic and Latino history, the museum has updated itsLatino History topic page, where you can find even more exhibitions, programs, museum collections, and resources that reflect the richness and diversity of Latino history in the United States. Our mission as a national public history institution is not only to tell complex stories but also to use history to empower people to create a just, compassionate, and equitable future. In an increasingly divided country, it is more important than ever to learn about and stand in solidarity with Latino communities." Visit their website to read more and see exhibits, public programs and collections
UNM Communication and Marketing (UCAM) Series Immigration: A Look at the Issues