Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

Department Chair  




C. Alejandra Elenes is Professor and Chair of the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her interdisciplinary scholarship bridges the humanities and social sciences and centers on the application of Anzalduan philosophy to examine Chicana feminist transformative pedagogies, epistemologies, methodologies, spirituality, and social justice. Her current research project studies the experiences of Chicanas in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and the formation of Chicana intellectual thought. In this research project, she is conducting genealogical, archival, and ethnographic research. She is the author of Transforming Borders: Chicana/o Popular Culture and Pedagogy (Lexington Books 2011) and co-editor of Chicana/Latina Education in Everyday Life: Feminista Perspectives on Pedagogy and Epistemology (SUNY Press) and winner of the 2006 American Educational Studies Association book critics' award. 

Alejandra C. Elenes, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair
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Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Faculty




Sonya M. Alemán is an associate professor in the Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department and Mexican American Studies Program at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She received her BA from St. Mary’s University, an MA from the University of Texas, Austin and a PhD from the University of Utah. She studies mainstream media representations of communities of color, alternative media content produced by communities of color, and manifestations of race, racism, and whiteness in the media. In addition, she is invested in improving the educational experiences of students of color. She draws on critical race theory and Chicana feminism to inform both her scholarship and pedagogy. She is published in Critical Studies in Media Communication; Equity and Excellence in Education; Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies; and International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. She is the Editor of Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.


Sonya Alemán, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
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Marco Cervantes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Mexican American Studies Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  He researches sonic convergences in shared spaces through the use of critical race theory, diaspora studies, decolonial studies, and hip-hop studies with a focus on Black and Brown solidarity and cultural overlap.  He has published in the American QuarterlyDecolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Association of Mexican American Educators, and Liminalities: Journal of Performance Studies. Along with his work as a scholar, he performs as hip-hop artist Mexican Step Grandfather and is also a member of the group Third Root.  


Marco Cervantes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
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A native of Seguin, Texas, Dr. Rachel Yvonne Cruz’s love for music began at a very early age--inspired by her mother, Mary, who availed a variety of musical styles and genres. According to her mother, Rachel was singing before she could speak. 

Cruz earned the degree Bachelor of Arts/Music from the University of Notre Dame (ND) in Indiana, under the direction of Georgine Resick, Soprano, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (UT), under the tutelage of Gilda Cruz- Romo, Soprano and the late Martha Deatherage, Soprano and Professor of Voice. Cruz has been a finalist at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competition and was the winner of the 1996 Roy Crane Award for Creativity in the Arts at UT. Cruz holds teaching certificates in Secondary Music and English as a Second Language. Her teaching career began at Fulmore Middle School in Austin, where she founded Austin Independent School Districts' first middle school mariachi ensemble and taught at Laredo’s Vidal M. Treviño School of Communication and Art.


Rachel Cruz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
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Dr. Cuevas is an Associate Professor in the REGSS department, where she serves as Assistant Chair as well as the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Coordinator. She is a recipient of the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, the UTSA McNair Mentor of the Year Award, and a Lutcher Brown Endowed Professorship.

She is the author of Post-Borderlandia: Chicana Literature and Gender Variant Critique (Rutgers University Press, 2018) and co-editor of El Mundo Zurdo 4: Selected Works from the 2013 Meeting of The Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (Aunt Lute Books, 2015).

Cuevas serves on the Executive Committee for the Modern Language Association’s Chicana/o/x Literature Forum and is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop. She also directs the UTSA Women’s Studies Institute.


Jackie Cuevas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Women's Studies
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Dr. Sylvia Mendoza (she/her/ella) was born and raised in Yanaguana/San Antonio, Texas. She is a graduate of John Jay High School, attended San Antonio College, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and her master’s degree from UTSA in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies. She attended the University of Utah for her doctoral program, where she co-coordinated an oral history project with Latinx elementary youth through a school-community-university partnership called Adelante. Dr. Mendoza’s research interests combine Black and Chicanx feminisms, critical youth studies, and Chicanx/Latinx education to center the educational experiences of Chicanx communities, particularly youth, and how these communities engage in teaching and learning, cultural production, and self-expression.

Sylvia Mendoza, Ph.D.
Associate Professor



Marc D. Perry is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching explore the crossroads of black culture-making and performance, antiracism, and market economies comparatively in the U.S., Caribbean, and broader African Diaspora. His first book Negro Soy Yo: Hip Hop and Raced Citizenship in Neoliberal Cuba (Duke 2016) explores Cuba’s hip-hop movement as a lens into the complexities of race, music, and social transformation on the island. His current research examines racial dynamics in New Orleans through interwoven currents of African American cultural practice, structural violence, and the marketing of black culture, bodies, and space. He joins us from New Orleans and has held previous faculty positions at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Tulane University.

Marc Perry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor



Lilliana Patricia Saldaña, Ph.D. is from Yanawana, an occupied territory known as San Antonio, Texas, and is an Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies (MAS) at UTSA where she also serves as program coordinator for the MAS program. 

Saldaña’s research draws from Chicana/x/o Studies methodologies, Chicana feminist thought, and decolonial studies to examine teacher identity and consciousness, epistemic struggles in education, and colonial/decolonial schooling practices. She’s published in nationally recognized journals, including Latinos & Education, Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society, and Association of Mexican American Educators Journal. She is currently working on various scholarly projects, including Latinas and the Politics of Urban Space, a co-edited book with Sharon Navarro (forthcoming 2021), and another edited volume with Marco Cervantes (forthcoming 2021) on decolonizing teaching/learning through Mexican American music.

Lilliana Saldana, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Mexican American Studies Program Coordinator

College of Education and Human Development
Main Building | One UTSA Circle | San Antonio, TX 78249
Phone: 210-458-4370 | education@utsa.edu