Institute for Latino Studies Year in Review 2021-2022

From the Director


I am so pleased to report another banner year for the activities and programs of the Institute for Latino Studies. The return to in-person programming after our COVID year provided a renewed opportunity to enrich the intellectual and cultural life at Notre Dame. Here are some highlights:

We hosted four outstanding speakers in our Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture series, each of whom helped our students, faculty, and staff understand the challenges to leading Latinx communities in today’s society.

We added four new ILS Faculty Fellows, bringing our total to 37 scholars across a wide range of disciplines.

Through our summer Cross Cultural Leadership Program, 27 students interned with Latino-focused community-based organizations and governmental agencies.

We ended the year hosting the Latina/o Studies Association biennial conference. This conference attracted 400 scholars. Many of the participants stated that it was one of the best LSA meetings they had ever attended.

These activities — in addition to offering 53 classes, impacting 926 students, and supporting our faculty research initiatives — kept ILS very busy this year. We love to be so busy!

Thank you to the former provost, Marie Lynn Miranda, and the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Sarah Mustillo, for their continuing support.

ILS Director Luis Fraga, Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and the Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science


The Institute for Latino Studies advances understanding of the fastest-growing and youngest population in the United States and the U.S. Catholic Church.

ILS strengthens the University of Notre Dame’s mission to prepare transformative leaders in all sectors, including the professions, arts, business, politics, faith, and family life among Latinos and all members of our society.


To foster a deeper understanding of Latino communities to empower faculty, students, society — all of us —to make better strategic decisions as to what kind of a country we want to leave for our children and grandchildren.

The Institute strives to achieve its mission by providing faculty and student support in the areas of Research, Academics, Leadership, Community Engagement, and Latino Spirituality.


ILS fosters and develops research in Latino Studies by faculty experts from numerous disciplines, positioning them as thought leaders throughout the U.S. and the world.

Faculty Highlights

Yamil Colón, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award. The prestigious CAREER award supports young faculty who have demonstrated their potential to serve as academic role models in research and education.

Xavier Navarro Aquino’s debut novel, Velorio (Harper Collins, 2022) was released in English and in Spanish to wide acclaim, including a positive review in the New York Times, a feature on NPR, and a spot on the Publisher’s Weekly “Writers to Watch” list.

Francisco Robles, an assistant professor in the Department of English, published articles in two top journals: "Lydia Mendoza's Moving Homelands" in Latino Studies and "Communal Imagination and the Problem of Allegory in Tomás Rivera’s …y no se lo tragó la tierra" in Twentieth-Century Literature.

Darcia Narvaez, professor emerita of psychology, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advance of Science (AAAS). Narvaez was recognized for her distinguished contributions illuminating typical and atypical development in terms of well-being, morality, and sustainable wisdom.


  • Steven Alvarado, Assistant Professor, Sociology
  • Thomas Anderson, Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Francisco Aragón, Professor of the Practice (Poetry & Literature), Latino Studies
  • Kraig Beyerlein, Associate Professor, Sociology
  • Tatiana Botero,Teaching Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Alex E. Chávez, Nancy O'Neill Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Yamil J Colón, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • David Cortez, Assistant Professor of Political Science
  • Luis Ricardo Fraga, Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science
  • Anne García-Romero, Associate Professor, Film, Television, and Theatre
  • Rev. Daniel Groody C.S.C., Vice President and Associate Provost and Associate Professor, Theology
  • Jimmy Gurulé, Professor, Law
  • Anna Haskins, Andrew V. Tackes Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Carlos A. Jáuregui, Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Amy Langenkamp, O'Shaughnessy Associate Professor of Education, Sociology
  • David M. Lantigua, Associate Professor, Theology
  • Katy Walter Lichon, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Alliance for Catholic Education
  • Elena Mangione-Lora, Teaching Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Ricardo Martinez-Schuldt, Assistant Professor, Sociology
  • Timothy Matovina, Professor and Chair, Theology
  • Orlando Menes, Professor, English
  • Nydia Morales-Soto, Assistant Director, Eck Institute for Global Health
  • Marisel Moreno, Rev. John A. O'Brien Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Darcia Narvaez, Professor Emerita, Psychology
  • Xavier Navarro Aquino, Assistant Professor, English
  • Jenny Padilla, William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Assistant Professor, Psychology
  • Rachel Rivers Parroquín, Teaching Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Jaime Pensado, Associate Professor, History
  • Juanita Pinzón Caicedo, Assistant Professor, Mathematics
  • Ricardo Ramírez, Associate Professor, Political Science
  • Tatiana Reinoza, Assistant Professor, Art, Art History, & Design
  • Karen Richman, Professor of the Practice (Cultural Anthropology), Latino Studies
  • Francisco Robles, Assistant Professor, English
  • Jason Ruiz, Associate Professor and Chair, American Studies
  • Maria Tomasula, Michael P. Grace Professor, Art, Art History & Design
  • Thomas Tweed, W. Harold and Martha Welch Professor, American Studies
  • Leonor Wangensteen, Associate Advising Professor, College of Engineering

2022 Latina/o Studies Association Conference

The LSA site committee—composed of a group of ILS faculty and staff members—was thrilled to welcome all participants and attendees to the LSA's biennial conference, “Centering Blackness, Challenging Latinidad.”

As host of the national 2022 Latina/o Studies Association Conference, ILS faculty selected a stellar lineup of AfroLatinx plenary speakers, including author Mayra Santos-Febres and artists Juana Valdes and Arturo Lindsay. More than 400 scholars and artists from across the nation attended the historic four-day event at Notre Dame, including renowned AfroLatinx poet Julian Randall, ND author Xavier Navarro Aquino, and Stateless/Apátrida film director Michèle Stephenson.

Associate Professor of Spanish Marisel Moreno (fourth from left) chaired the site committee.

Graduate Research

The ILS Graduate Student Working Group convenes young scholars from multiple disciplines to share their research, address issues affecting Latino communities, and develop a national professional network in a growing field of experts.

"The workshop series with ILS was one of my most intellectually stimulating and motivating experiences at Notre Dame. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn about interdisciplinary perspectives from my fellow group members, I also presented key sections of my own dissertation work and garnered specific, one-on-one feedback from scholars in diverse fields. The atmosphere was as warm and supportive as it was constructive and productive. I hope the ILS continues to organize working groups for the scholastic growth of its graduate students."

Aileen Vezeau ’23, M.A. in Iberian & Latin American Studies


ILS is a premier teaching and curricular institute at Notre Dame and serves as a model and leader among institutes of its kind across the nation.


A sampling of recent courses

Borderlands Art and Theory • Race & Policing in the U.S. • On the Move: Migration in American Literature • Latinos in the Future of America • Latinos in U.S. Politics • Dangerous Reads: Banned U.S. Latinx Literature • From Ballads to Hip Hop • Afrolatinidades


Luis Lopez ’22

  • Hometown: Mundelein, IL
  • Major: Biological Sciences
  • Supplementary Major: Latino Studies
  • Now: Studying medicine at Northwestern University
The diverse array of ILS courses — ranging from the history of the Americas from the perspective of Indigenous Americans to the exploration of U.S. Latino Catholicism — broadened my understanding of the Latinx experience as well as provided me a greater appreciation for my Mexican heritage."

Maria Camila Leon Buitrago ’22

  • Hometown: Elkhart, IN
  • Major: Psychology
  • Supplementary Major: Latino Studies
  • Now: Alliance for Catholic Education, teaching 5th grade at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School, Tulsa, OK
Thankfully, the Institute for Latino Studies immediately gifted me a space that felt like a home away from home. The Latino Studies courses, faculty, and fellow peers resembled my own home, family, and culture.”

Madeline Soiney ’22

  • Hometown: New Berlin, WI
  • Majors: Spanish & Global Affairs
  • Minor: Latino Studies
  • Now: Graduate student, University of Wisconsin-Madison Hyphenate Community-Engaged Learning
My engagement with Latino Studies has spanned several types of learning. I have taken four Community Engaged Learning courses, supplementing my classroom learning with service in the South Bend community.”


ILS develops transformative leaders with a depth of understanding about the capacity of Latino communities to enrich all aspects of American society.

Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture

Dr. Lisette Nieves, president and CEO of the Fund for the City of New York.
  • We began the year with the visit from The Honorable Julían Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
  • In the spring we were able to host three more speakers as part of the Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series: Dr. José Ángel Gutiérrez, founder of the Raza Unida Party and former professor at the University of Texas-Arlington; former Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Chicago; and Dr. Lisette Nieves, President and CEO of the Fund for the City of New York.

Each of our speakers helped our students, faculty, and staff understand the challenges of leading Latinx communities in today’s society.

Latino Studies Scholars Program

One of our signature leadership initiatives is the Latino Studies Scholars Program (LSSP), which started in 2017. Undergraduates in the program receive a $100,000 merit scholarship over four years. Additionally, ILS provides $5,000 per summer toward an enrichment experience, such as research, courses, or internships in a Latino community.

LSSP Scholar Graduates Lorena, Stacy, and Yanik (from left to right)

ILS celebrated the graduation of three LSSP scholars in 2022:

  • Yanik Ariste, an accounting and Spanish major and Latino studies minor from Miami, Florida
  • Stacy Manrique, a computer science and film, television, and theatre major and Latino studies minor from McAllen, Texas
  • Lorena Morejón-Lasso, a biological sciences and Latino studies major from Boca Raton, Florida, who also participated in Notre Dame's Glynn Family Honors Program.
As I look toward my future career as a physician, I am confident that Latino Studies and the ILS family will continue to ground me in my efforts to become a transformative leader for Latino communities."

— Lorena Morejón-Lasso '22

Sofia Casillas ’24

The internship with Congressman Castro was truly a life-changing experience. I witnessed the power the legislative branch has to change lives. The system may feel broken at times, but I promise there is always someone behind the desk fighting for you no matter how removed Washington may feel.”

Andy de la Garza ’25

Over the summer, I took on a few different projects. I analyzed census data of various racial/ethnic groups in New York City and also researched different client portals using the feedback of the portfolio managers at the Fund [for the City of New York]. I also got to do some on-site work at one of the Fund’s partner projects, Zone 126, touring their offices and helping set up a food pantry.”

Jimena Ramazzini ’26

I want to pursue civil engineering and continue to be involved in community service as I have been for the past 4 years in high school. I want to take the skills and knowledge I gain at Notre Dame and apply them to low-resourced communities to build safer infrastructure."

Incoming LSSP Scholars

In March 2022, ILS selected the sixth cohort of young leaders for its Latino Studies Scholars Program. These 10 incoming first-year students hail from California, Indiana, Texas, Minnesota, Idaho, and Illinois. They participated in a weeklong excursion to Wyoming for the Notre Dame faculty-led “Wonder Program.” During this experiential learning program geared for human flourishing, students encountered nature and people with awe, surprise, and beauty.

Incoming LSSP Scholars (Class of 2026)
  • Grecia Alcantar, East Chicago, IN — Sociology
  • Anthony Banderas Infante, St. Paul, MN — Mechanical Engineering
  • Johana Jimenez, Minneapolis, MN— Pre-Health
  • Connor Kaufman, El Paso, TX — History
  • Emily Lopez, Saint John, IN — Civil Engineering
  • Angela Olvera, McAllen, TX — Political Science
  • Jimena Ramazzini, Idaho Falls, ID — Civil Engineering
  • Alan Saldivar, Romeoville, IL — Political Science
  • Izabella Vazquez, Fresno, CA — Sociology
  • Gisela Villavicencio, San Jose, CA — Spanish

Cross Cultural Leadership Program

During the summer of 2022, 27 Notre Dame students completed eight-week, full-time internships at local and national organizations as part of the Cross Cultural Leadership Program. Students in this three-credit, summer course organized by ILS walked away with hands-on service learning experience and critical study led by Karen Richman, Director of Undergraduate Studies and ILS Professor of the Practice.

Internships spanned disciplines from technology to medicine, and arts to politics and law. Partner organizations included Univision, the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership, UnidosUS, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Joseph Trinidad ’24

Joseph Trinidad, a biology major, was one of five CCLP students who spent the summer in Washington D.C. He interned at the Latin American Youth Center

I would like to use my internship as a means to start being a part of the solution, rather than the problem in our society and, in turn, lead future generations into doing the same thing."

Grace Hsu '24

Grace Hsu, a Latino studies minor and preprofessional studies major on the pre-med track, worked for eight weeks at Alivio Medical Center in Chicago and lived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood with other students.

I learned a lot about Latino culture and formed strong bonds as well as had meaningful conversations, and it led me to be dedicated to serving the community as a physician.”

Aidee Barajas ’23

Aidee Barajas, a rising senior majoring in American studies and sociology, also has a minor in Latino studies. Her CCLP internship this summer was MALDEF in Los Angeles.

This CCLP summer has been an amazing opportunity for me to understand the different sides of public interest law and solidify what I want to do in the coming years.”


Every year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, our nation marks Hispanic Heritage Month. Here at Notre Dame, Hispanic Heritage Month offers us an opportunity to take part in activities and events that strengthen a culture of inclusion and belonging, and honor the contributions of those of Hispanic and Latin American origin. Certainly, each of us is called to live up to our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion every month and, indeed, every day.

”Even as we celebrate the many contributions of Hispanics, we must also acknowledge, sadly but honestly, a history in the U.S. of discrimination against the peoples of this heritage, and the ways we have fallen short in our own communities. Let us work together to address injustice and exclusion, and build a brighter future, for Latinos and for all Americans.”

Statement from Father Jenkins

Muriel Hasbun

Renowned artist and educator Muriel Hasbun delivered a lecture in March 2022 titled “With Pulsing Desire: Memory, Representation and Inclusion through Art.” She also conducted a "Community Blackboard" workshop with students in art, literature, and Latino studies to examine their heritage and stories.

Letras Latinas

Now in its 19th year, the Institute’s literary initiative carries out its mission both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame with an emphasis on programs that support newer voices, foster a sense of community among writers, and place Latinx writers in community spaces. The initiative was founded by ILS Professor of the Practice Francisco Aragón. Seven campus and livestreamed events were held this year.

Additionally, Letras Latinas conducted a podcast, “Curated Conversation(s): A Latinx Poetry Show”—season 1 (online: episodes 6- 12), co-presented with The Writer’s Center and Duende District and funded by the Poetry Foundation and private benefaction.

On-campus Highlights:

Poet and scholar Edgar Garcia delivered a reading and artist talk in October 2021. They were co-presented with the Creative Writing Program.

Poet and editor Jacob Saenz gave a reading in April 2022, which was co-presented with the Creative Writing Program.


We continue to work directly with Holy Cross School to expand its two-way immersion program. We also continue to work with the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership in Chicago to provide training to students in community organizing that’s grounded in Catholic social teaching.

None of this work—from research and teaching to community engagement and Latino spirituality—would be possible without our Advisory Council members. We are grateful for their support and guidance.

From Left: Irma Tuder ’84, retired owner, Tuder Investments, LLC, Madison, Alabama; Jessica Pedroza ’17, educator, Horizon Science Academy Southwest Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Greg Hinojosa Evans ’89 (Law), McGuire Woods, LLP, Los Angeles, California; Luis R. Fraga, ILS director; Phil Eagan ’70, Viking Global Investors, L.P., New York City, New York; Philip Fuentes, owner and operator, McDonald’s, CHBIP Management, Inc., and chair of the ILS Advisory Council; Peter S. Gonzales ’16, JD ’19, associate, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Chicago, Illinois; Ignacio Lozano, Jr. ’47, retired publisher, of La Opinión, Newport Beach, California, and Board of Trustees emeritus; Lupe Eichelberger ’82, co-founder, Snoozeenie, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia; and Joe A. Power ’74, president, founding partner, and attorney at Power, Rogers & Smith, Chicago, Illinois.

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