Graduate Students

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Frank Pancho Aviles

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Frank Pancho Aviles
My name is Frank Pancho Aviles, son of Fructuoso Aviles and Maria Aviles (Reyes).

I grew up working in the fields picking grapes, oranges, lemons, olives, cucumbers, pecans, walnuts, and chopping weeds alongside my parents, five sisters and three brothers, and I'm a first-generation college student.

Over the years, I've served as a counselor, an educator, an advocate, and a writer in the migrant education, health education, mental health, LGBTQ2, and library professions, providing support to Mexican, Native American, African American, and underserved communities in general.

My research incorporates both my Chicanx and Lipan Apache identities. The current focus of my research is Indigenous and Chicanx masculinities.

Another one of my interests is Native American and Mexican genealogical research. I devote time to finding hidden documents of Indigenous ancestors in Mexican Church records.

My educational background includes a BA in Mathematics with a minor in La Raza Studies, an MA in Information Resources and Library Sciences, and a PhD in Communication and Information.

Anissa Baca

M.A. Student

Photo: Anissa Baca

Anissa is a native New Mexican, raised in the small ranching community of Ojo Caliente, where she was given compelling examples of hard work.

She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications, with a minor in Media Arts, at the University of New Mexico. Soon after, she relocated to Prague, Czech Republic, where she worked, lived and traveled for five years. 

Her wondrous spirit found its way back home, where she rediscovered her upbringing, incredible culture and complicated history, and wanted to have a part in the preservation of her community’s way of life. 

She sought out the Chicana and Chicano Studies MA program because it closely aligned with her personal goals. She is honored to have a part in the trailblazing program, for herself, and for her people.

Diana Bustamante-Aguilar

M.A. Student

Photo: Diana Bustamante-Aguilar
My name is Diana Bustamante-Aguilar, and I am from a combination of places and people. My family is from Durango, Mexico but I have lived in Colorado most of my life. After high school I moved from Colorado Springs to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado Boulder where in May of 2019 I obtained a B.A. in History. While at CU Boulder, I minored in Spanish and Ethnic Studies as well as completed a Secondary Social Studies teacher preparation program. As an undergraduate student I was heavily involved in student organizing through groups like UMAS y MEChA.

I am a teacher in Southeast Denver at South High school (Go Ravens!) where I teach United States History and Concurrent Enrollment Intro to Chicana/o Studies through Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition to K-12 teaching, I also have experience creating and presenting professional development to other educators. During my time as an undergraduate student and throughout the last year, I have worked with the Latino History Project to gather, curate and present primary sources about Latinx communities in Colorado so they can be used in K-12 classrooms. 

I am looking forward to and am honored to be continuing my education at the University of New Mexico through the Online MA in Chicana and Chicano Studies program starting in the Fall of 2022. 

Valerie Chavez

M.A. Student

Photo: Valerie Chavez

Valerie Chavez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her family lineage is firmly planted in New Mexico and is a key influence in her academic interests.

Valerie graduated from UNM with her B.A. in Intercultural Communication and a minor in Chicana/o studies. After graduating, Valerie spent two years working within the development staff for a local non-profit that strives to end homelessness in New Mexico.

She is now part of the administrative team as well as a direct contact for organizations, students, faculty and staff with interest in the PNMGC program. PNMGC is a peer mentoring program for graduate students of color. The program’s main focus is the peer-to-peer mentoring but also includes leadership and professional development, community and cultural engagement as well as academic workshops. 

Valerie’s proposed research is rooted in her Nueva Mexicana identity. While studying, she plans on analyzing Nueva Mexicana Chola self-expression and its relation to Chicana feminism. Her focus will be to destruct and understand the importance of space/place within Chicana feminist identity.

Jerome Chávez

M.A. Student

Photo: Jerome Chávez
Jerome Chávez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His family has had roots in the state for many generations.  

He became a community activist at an early age. In high school he was a member of La Raza Unida Youth Committee, and participated in a solidarity march against Proposition 187 in California.

Jerome graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 2006, earning Bachelors of Arts degrees in Political Science and American Studies. He moved to Denver, Colorado afterwards.

In Denver, Jerome became involved in the Chicano/Mexicano community there, and continued doing work for social justice. He helped organize several events against war, against police brutality, and for immigrant rights and for international solidarity. He helped organize the Transform Columbus Day march in 2007 and the Recreate 68 counter-convention against the Democratic National Convention in 2008. In 2014, the 40th anniversary of the deaths of Los Seis de Boulder Chicano activists, he assisted in the Symbols of Resistance commemoration for Chicano Movement martyrs from Colorado. 

Considering himself an organic intellectual, he conducted much independent research on Chicano history and did many community presentations on this topic. In his academic work he hopes to bring up and give a thorough analysis of the history and social movements of the Chicano people that are often overlooked.

Jerome moved back to Albuquerque, where he lives with his black cat, and trains in kenpo karate.

Phil Cioppa

M.A. Student

Photo: Phil Cioppa

Hello! My name is Phil Cioppa and I am a member of the MA in Chicana and Chicano Studies proigram beginning with the Fall 2022 cohort.

With my wife, Janie, I live in West Richland WA – located in the southeastern part of WA State. Originally from Albany, NY, I hold a BA in Greek and Roman Civilization and French and a MA in English.

I teach English full-time at Hanford High School in Richland, WA. (GO Falcons!) Additionally, I chair our school’s Equity Committee.  

Having worked in and with the Mexican-American community for some time, I have long wanted to increase my knowledge of Chicana and Chicano Studies and am most grateful UNM now offers the online program. Although studying for this degree later in life, I know it will give me a deeper understanding and sensitivity of this ever-growing community.

Luis Esparza

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Luis Esparza

My name is Luis Oswaldo Esparza. I am originally from Tototlán, Jalisco, Mexico, but raised in the Inland Empire region of California. I identify as Queer, Joto, Xicano, and most importantly, a social justice warrior. I obtained an associate degree from San Bernardino Valley College in 2014. I then transferred to California State University, San Bernardino where I graduated with a BA in Media Studies and an MA in Communication Studies. Now, I am both happy and honored to be part of the UNM Chicana and Chicano Studies PhD program.

My experiences as a queer person of color have ultimately shaped the direction of my research. Much of my research is centered around de-colonial theories and methodologies. That is, de-centralizing European ways of knowing as 'universal knowledge' and centering subaltern and indigenous epistemologies. I also focus on rural queerness in los ranchos y los pueblos, Queer Indigenous studies, and Queer subversive complicity.

As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, my pedagogy style has also been greatly influenced by de-colonial thinkers like Paulo Freire, Frantz Fanon, Gloria Anzaldúa, Bell Hooks, and Enrique Dussel, and Ramón Grosfoguel.  With my research, activist work, and methods of teaching, I seek to humanize and empower myself, my students, and our community in order to liberate and transform our world. I hope to one day see a world free of eurocentrism, racism, hierarchization, homophobia, transphobia, machismo, patriarchy, and any other kind of system of oppression. Un mundo Trans-moderno (Dussel, 1993). Un mundo sin fronteras!

Corky Frausto

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Corky Frausto

I am Robert (Corky) Frausto. I was born and raised in South Texas and participated in my first Chicano Rights protest in Del Rio in 1969. I have a BA in Psychology (UTSA) and an MA in Special Education (UNM). I moved to Albuquerque 30 years ago. I teach Chicano Studies and Chicano Literature at Highland High School in Albuquerque. I also sponsor MEChA at Highland. 


The Chicano Studies Program at Highland is unique in that it is intended as intervention classes for struggling and at risk students. My research is focused on curriculum development for secondary education ethnic studies classes and on the development of the literary canon in Chicano Literature. 


I live in Albuquerque's South Valley with 2 dogs and 3 cats. I am an artist and host an arts, crafts and music festival at my home every October. Everyone is welcome.

Gustavo García

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Gustavo García

Gustavo García is a first generation Xicano Zapotec that was born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

His family is from the Central Valley of Oaxaca from a community named San Baltazar Chichicapam.

He first started his educational journey at Santa Monica Community College where he received an AA in Social and Behavior Science.

After four years of full-time school and work, he transferred to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with BAs in Chicanx and American Indian Studies. Spring of 2019, he received his MA in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.  

Now as a PhD student in the department of Chicana/o Studies, his research interests engages with the intersections of Chicanx and Indigenous Studies to examine questions around coloniality/decolonization, Indigenous migration, Zapotec Studies, and Indigenous social movements.

In addition, he participates in various undergraduate/graduate student organizations, Danza Azteca and Son Jarocho.

Jorge García

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Jorge García

Baccalaureate degree in Sociology, Master of Arts in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies & Master of Business Administration 

I was born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. 

I grew up Chicago where I obtained an AS degree in mathematics with an emphasis in philosophy. 

In 1999, I obtained an undergraduate degree in sociology with an emphasis in theory, history, and power structures. 

In 2004 I obtained a master’s degree in Language Literacy and Sociocultural education with an emphasis on transnational networks.

In 2015 I obtained an MBA from UNM with a focus on international education. 

I also spent 3 semesters in Regional Planning where I studied community development and planning.  This experience led me to co-found La Plazita Institute, a community space for gang prevention, community meetings, and youth programs. 

From 2000 to 2010, I worked and managed the Iberoamerican Science Technology and Education Consortium (ISTEC), a center for network building with an emphasis on research in microelectronics. 

I am the founder and Advisor to the Board of Directors of the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS) a non-for-profit community-based research and learning center that is serving our local community of Atrisco (South Valley).

Much of the work I do, both at the university and community level, is being done under three distinct theoretical frameworks: complex systems, critical consciousness, and network development. 

I have developed the Quadruple Helix (4H), which is a social paradigm to facilitate communication and strategic alliances between industry, goverment, academia, and multinational organizations to support the cultural, political, social, and economic develoment of local communities. 

I am deeply involved in my culture.  I have focused my studies, and currently use, Mesoamerican calendars, Mexican thought and symbolism.

My main goal at El Centro de la Raza is to empower underprivileged students and focus on issues related to identity, intercultural studies, and social entrepreneurship.

Howard Griego

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Howard Griego

Howard is a non-traditional first-generation student born in Santa Rosa New Mexico. On his return to academia, he began the new phase of his journey at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) where he received an AA in Liberal Arts. 

After transferring to the University of New Mexico (UNM) he received his BA with his major in Chicana and Chicano Studies and minor in Communication and Journalism. He then received his master’s in Chicana and Chicano studies (2022). 

He is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. program of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UNM and is a Teachers Assistant for the department. His interests are indigenous communities in New Mexico and Mexico. His research is focused on Chicanx Muralism and Identity in New Mexico by Nuevomexicana/o Muralists.  

Diahndra Grill

M.A. Student

Photo: Diahndra Grill

Diahndra Grill is a multimedia artist, educator, and feminista.

She is the co-founder of JustWrite (, a non-profit organization focused in the education sector and in collaboration with those incarcerated and in transition, engaging visual and literary arts as catalysts for self-discovery, healing, cultural and self preservation, and community building.

Diahndra is the Program Manager for the UNM Film & Digital Arts Department. She also serves on the SAFE House Board of Directors, an organization that shelters and empowers survivors of intimate partner domestic violence and works to improve the way New Mexico responds to violence.

Diahndra’s art reflects the personal/political experience while engaging the power of interwoven relationships and storytelling to dismantle borders and to sustain and reimagine identity, culture, and purpose.

Lee Ann  Llamas

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Lee Ann  Llamas

Lee Ann is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque, in the South Valley. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Relations, with a Minor in Spanish, from UNM. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from New Mexico Highlands University in 2002.

Lee Ann is currently employed as a School Social Worker supporting high school students diagnosed with mental illnesses, in a social-emotional support program.

Lee Ann has worked with undocumented victims of domestic violence, providing support and guidance for access to resources to assist with physical, emotional, and mental issues related to their situations.  She has also worked with programs who provide community outreach and advocacy for underserved individuals, including homeless populations and the mentally ill. Lee Ann has provided support for foster and adoptive care placements by performing assessments to ensure the child’s safety and security.  

Ruben Loza

M.A. Student

Photo: Ruben Loza

I am originally from Mexico City, Mexico, but have spent a large portion of my life growing up in Los Angeles, California. I have lived experiences in Mexico and the United States that have motivated me to explore Mexican and Chicanx culture in my studies and at UNM, I hope to look at their influences on a global scale.

By early June of 2022, I will have gotten my BFA in graphic design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I hope to incorporate some of my design abilities into my new field of study while putting time into my research. I want to help in breaking borders and communicating important messages, and I believe I will get closer to that goal through UNM and the Chicana/o graduate studies program that very much embraces this breaking of borders.

Go Lobos!

Ashley Martinez

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Ashley Martinez

Jewell Medina

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Jewell Medina

My name is Jewell Martha Medina.

I am a social justice Chicana scholar.

My research interests include art as it relates to social movements with an emphasis on history and giving voice to women’s stories. 

I have a permanent collection of my protest art at the Arizona State University Chicano archives.

My masters thesis is entitled “Women Who Wake With The Roosters And Other Xicana Sacred Spaces: Our Art Is Our Weapon”.

Dominique Rodríguez

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Dominique Rodríguez

My name is Dominique Rodríguez, and I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. My family has deep ties to New Mexico, and my love for our community has given rise to my interests in art, dance, and my studies.

I completed a BA in Spanish and a Minor in Chicana and Chicano Studies at UNM and went on to complete an MA at UNM in Hispanic Linguistics while teaching in the Sabine Ulibarrí Spanish as a Heritage Language Program. I have been an educator in one form or another for most of my life, and I am passionate about supporting students in their educations and excited to support programs dedicated to the Chicana/o/x community.

Since completing my MA, I have worked for several years in clinical research studying the effects of stress, alcohol and drugs during pregnancy on child development and maternal health. As I have learned about medicine and health systems and grown in my personal studies of spiritual healing, my focus has set on traditional healing practices and their impacts in our community.

My research interests include exploring the role of Chicana/o/x spiritual beliefs, cultural norms, and traditional medicine practices in our orientation to health and healing. I am particularly interested in how spiritual healing practices and traditional medicine are evolving in new generations to meet a changing cultural landscape. In additional to spirituality and health, my interests include Chicanx feminism, activism/advocacy and in my free time, I explore art, classic cars, gardening and dance.

Patricia Roybal Caballero

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Patricia Roybal Caballero
  • New Mexico State Representative first elected 2012, re-elected 2014, 2016, and most recently in 2018
  • Immediate Past New Mexico House Democratic Caucus Chair and immediate past National Treasurer of LULAC (National League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization, founded in 1929)
  • Native New Mexican and tribal member of Piro Manso Tiwa Tribe, Pueblo of San Juan de Guadalupe, in Las Cruces.
  • Married to R. Carlos Caballero, New Mexico Public Education Commissioner, District 1
  • Mother of two adult sons, Yusef (television producer) and Celestino (Entrepreneur), daughter-in-law, Liliana 
  • Grandmother of grandsons, Yusef II and Nasir Phillipe

Keith Sánchez

M.A. Student

Photo: Keith Sánchez

Keith Sánchez is originally from Belen, New Mexico, but due to his Father’s work with the University of New Mexico’s LAPE (Latin American Programs in Education), he spent the latter part of his youth in the midst of armed rebellion and civil war in El Salvador, Centro America.  

Witnessing stark injustice, political violence, and unfathomable economic disparity, Keith was naturally propelled towards a life in education and the arts with a mission to, as Paulo Friere stated,  “teach students to think democratically and to continually question and make meaning from, and critically view, everything they learn.” 

He is presently a Chicana/o Studies, English/Language Arts, and Music Instructor at RFK Charter High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

His eighteen years of experience as an educator include working in the Albuquerque NM, Oakland and Long Beach CA, school systems in the arenas of Bilingual education, Special education, Music, and English Language Arts. Keith earned a BA in Secondary Education and endorsements in Bilingual Education, and Communicative Arts.  

He is also presently the Founder, Director, and Chief Instructor of a non-profit community music program entitled the New Mexico Academy of Rock and Blues (NMARB). 

As a grassroots arts program, NMARB focuses on providing scholarships for students with limited access to Arts Programs in the community due to socioeconomic factors. 

Keith is also a career musician who has traveled the world as a performing artist. He was the lead singer, songwriter, lyricist and guitarist for underground political sensation Stoic Frame, boasting a #1 single on R&R’s national “rock en español” charts, with music featured on major network television such as MTV Latino, The Shield, Fuse Network and BET.

Through this unique lens of educational and applied community-based experiences, Keith has developed an Arts and Cultural Curriculum that forms the crux of his Chicana/o Studies Program in the heart of the historic South Valley Barrio in Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico. 

Keith will be pursuing an MA in Chicana/Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Natalia Toscano

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Natalia Toscano

Natalia M. Toscano was born and raised in Oakland, CA. She attended Santa Monica College and transferred to the University of California Los Angeles, where she received her Bachelors in Chicana/o Studies and American Indian Studies. Having received her Master’s in American Studies, Natalia is now a Ph.D. student in the inaugural cohort of Chicana/o Studies at the University of New Mexico.

 Currently her research centers the exploration of Chicana/o/x cultural production and the entanglements of nationalist ideologies and discourse amongst Mexican, Chicanx, and Latinx communities.

 A firm believer in building community on campus, Natalia works with several student initiatives on campus including El Puente an undergraduate research program and the student organization Quetzalkuetlachtli.

Chantel Trujillo

M.A. Student

Photo: Chantel Trujillo

Chantel Trujillo was raised along the acequias of the Rio Grande in Tomé, New Mexico. She grew up understanding the importance of cultural expression and preservation and is an advocate for ethnic studies programs, beginning in early childhood. She believes that the lack of access to ethnic studies is a form of genocide and plans to hold schools accountable when they are not answering to the demand for ethnic studies.

Her heart is completely invested in social justice work. Her research interests include issues of social justice (locally and internationally), culturally relevant models and pedagogies, and land/water sustainability initiatives in New Mexico.

Chantel is an organizer, a mentor, and an educator in the community, and she is thrilled and honored to have been accepted as part of the Inaugural M.A. Cohort in Chicana and Chicano Studies at The University of New Mexico.

Tatyana Trujillo

M.A. Student

Photo: Tatyana Trujillo

Tatyana Trujillo is an activist, artist, poet and social advocate for her community.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a minor in Pre-Law at Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado

She is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque.

Since she was a young girl she was heavily involved with social justice and advocacy work.

She brought that into her adult life and now that is what she centers her studies around.

Currently she is invested in dedicating her time and education into food justice and working with migrant workers.

Moving forward with my education, I want to make a change especially for those who do not have the same opportunity.