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Chicano and Chicana Studies Staff

Mercedes Avila

Photo: Mercedes Avila

Mercedes Avila was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she completed her Bachelor's of Arts in Chicana and Chicano Studies, concentrating in Intersectional Politics and Social Movements in May 2016. She is currently pursuing a Master's of Education in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, while completing a graduate assistantship with CCS.

Mercedes has worked with various nonprofits and grassroots organizations and is devoted to affecting social change while emphasizing commitment to the arts as a mechanism in achieving it.

Eddie Hawkins

505 465-2228

Trisha Martinez

Photo: Trisha Martinez

Trisha Martinez is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and her minors in Chicano/a Studies and African American and Diaspora Studies. Currently, Trisha is preparing for her comprehensive exam as a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. This academic year, Trisha serves as Graduate Student Coordinator for UNM’s Chicana and Chicano Studies Department (CCS) and continues to participate in the CCS Advisory Committee. Her educational pursuit has been in tandem with her passion for cultural performance and the ways identity, power, and resistance are intertwined and expressed. Trisha is an awardee of UNM’s  2016-2017 Center for Regional Studies Fellowship and a 3rd year recipient for the Hispanic Women’s Council (HWC) Scholarship.

Trisha is actively involved in the Transnational Research Collective (TRC), an interdisciplinary graduate student organization that aims to enhance studies and scholarship related to transnational cultural, social and political dynamics of the Americas. She is an editor and contributor to the collective’s working paper series. Trisha recently chartered QuetzaKuetlachtli, a UNM student organization that studies the transnational cultural attributes that emerged from the US Southwest and the Central Valley in Mexico, emphasizing the study of danza azteca. Trisha is also a participant for Scholars for New Mexico Studies (SNMS), a student and community based organization created to educate and engage with New Mexico’s rich cultural landscape, particularly with land grants and water acequias. Trisha continues to maintain her communal and academic connections with the University of Wyoming and local community. She is currently assisting Professor Levi Romero and Dr. Vanessa Fonseca on the Manito Trail Project, that examines the migration of Nuevo Mexicanos to Wyoming, including the diaspora of Nuevomexicano culture.

Her research areas of interest include: Southwest borderlands, cultural performance (particularly within the context of social movements), transnationalism, and women of color feminism.

Antoinette Rael

Photo: Antoinette Rael
505 277-6414
Chicano Studies office

Antoinette Rael was born here in Albuquerque, and raised in the beautiful Pecos Valley of Northern New Mexico. She takes pride in her heritage, having grown up in a rich Hispanic environment where she learned to appreciate the value of family, work and culture. She has many years of experience in banking and administration and has studied Spanish at SFCC. She is married and has 4 daughters, and 6 grandchildren. She enjoys road trips around this beautiful state of Nuevo Mexico.

Cassie Smith

Photo: Cassie Smith
505 277-4524

Cassie Smith hails from Cutler, Ohio and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.  Her research focuses on community-based art education in the borderlands.

Ms. Smith obtained a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies and Art Education from the University of Texas as well as certificates in Nonprofit Studies and Mexican American Studies respectively.  

Ms. Smith graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus in Latin America as well as a degree in Spanish.

During her studies, Ms. Smith studied abroad in Merida, Mexico, Puebla, Mexico, and San Jose, Costa Rica.  Ms. Smith has presented her research on Chicano community-based art education at both the Texas Art Education Association and National Arts Education Association conferences. She also has over 15 years of volunteer service including her roles as an usher at The Long Center for the Performing Arts and a member of the City of Austin, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican Cultural Center Advisory Board.  

Ms. Smith possesses varied employment experience from working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors including over four years as a Refugee Employment Specialist at Caritas of Austin immigrants from around the world including Nepal, Burma, DR Congo, Iraq and Cuba.