Year in Review 2019-2020

From the Director

For 20 years, the Institute for Latino Studies has brought insight to understanding the largest non-white segment of our Catholic Church and the nation. These demographic trends are only expected to continue.

Almost all of our sponsored and cross-listed courses have implications for more deeply understanding the complexities of racial and social justice that are so relevant to our current political moment. Much of the research conducted by our 32 affiliated faculty fellows also contributes to understanding the challenges our nation faces today and has faced since its founding.

Our history of bringing that work to a diverse segment of students, faculty, staff, and community members continues within the limitations of what can be done given COVID-19. Nonetheless, we are very proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2019–20 and look forward to enriching the intellectual life of the entire Notre Dame family for years to come.”

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

None of this work would be possible without our Advisory Board, and we are grateful for their support and guidance.

First row from left to right: Jessica Pedroza '17, Lupe Eichelberger, ILS Director Luis Fraga, Joe Power, Ruben Berumen. Second row: Art Velasquez (ND Trustee Emeritus), Juan Rangel '15, Phil Eagan, Geoff Samora. Back: Tom McNeill, Ted Koury, Phil Fuentes (Chair), Edna Koury.


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. Among the highlights:

Alex E. Chávez

ILS Faculty Fellow Alex E. Chávez, an associate professor of anthropology was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Newberry Fellowship and named one of 10 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Mellon award supports junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture, and society, and who are committed to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars.

There’s no question the Latino vote will be crucial in this year’s presidential election. But to understand the impact of Latinos in 2020, it’s helpful to step back four years, to the victory of a president who has made anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiment a staple of his presidency.

In their new book, Latinos and the 2016 Election: Latino Resistance and the Election of Donald Trump, co-editors and Notre Dame Professors of Political Science Luis Fraga and Ricardo Ramírez, along with Professor Gabriel Sanchez of the University of New Mexico, provide an in depth-look at the last presidential race and its unexpected outcome.


  • Thomas Anderson, Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Francisco Aragón, Associate 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 Assistant Professor, Anthropology
  • Yamil J Colón, ND B.S. ’09, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • David Cortez, Assistant Professor, Political Science
  • Luis Ricardo Fraga, Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor, Political Science
  • Anne García-Romero, Associate Professor, Film, Television, and Theatre
  • Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C., ND B.A. ’86; ND Fellow and Trustee; Vice President and Associate Provost; Associate Professor, Theology and Global Affairs
  • Jimmy Gurulé, Professor, Law
  • Carlos A. Jáuregui, Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Amy Langenkamp, O'Shaughnessy Associate Professor of Education, Sociology
  • David M. Lantigua, ND Ph.D. ’12, Assistant Professor, Theology
  • Erin M. Lemrow, Assistant Advising Professor, College of Arts and Letters
  • Ricardo Martinez-Schuldt, Assistant Professor, Sociology
  • Timothy Matovina, Professor and Chair, Theology
  • Orlando Menes, Professor, English
  • Nydia Morales-Soto, Program Director, Eck Institute for Global Health
  • Marisel Moreno, Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Darcia Narvaez, Professor, Psychology
  • Jaime Pensado, Associate Professor, History
  • Sarah Quesada, Assistant Professor, English
  • 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, and founding director of Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion

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 ILS workshop was an invaluable resource for my research. Being able to share my writing among fellow scholars and getting a variety of perspectives on what I had written helped immensely. The process as a whole pushes you to work harder, so you can present your best work to the group, but also fosters an environment that allows for constructive feedback, with the ultimate goal of helping to get your work to its highest potential. I'm truly grateful to have such an opportunity as a member of ILS and the greater Notre Dame community.”

Amir M. Sadeh, Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science


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

The Hyphenated American: U.S. Theatre • Latinos in U.S. Politics • Latinx Art and Activism • Race and Activism • Social Inequality and American Education • Race & Ethnicity in U.S. Latina/o Literature


ILS Faculty Fellow Jason Ruiz, an associate professor and chair in the Department of American Studies, won the 2019 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters. It recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained excellence in teaching, informed by research, over a wide range of courses while employing innovative and creative teaching methods.


Erin Marie Albertini ’20

“When I arrived at Notre Dame, I had an intended Spanish major with the goal of being a bilingual physician.

During my experience with ILS's Cross-Cultural Leadership Program in Chicago, I realized that what I wanted out of my education was to become better at building meaningful relationships on a foundation of trust—and this is what a Latino Studies minor had to offer. I was exposed to the cultural and relational side of learning that I hoped for, improving my cultural competency and ability to empathize with Latino populations.

I was fortunate to spend my senior year in the Border Immersion Seminar, which was a defining moment of my educational career. The immersion, along with my other Latino Studies classes, embedded in me a desire to serve and advocate for immigrant populations, which I hope to do through a career in medicine specialized in migrant health/border medicine.”

After graduation, Erin will spend a year in Mexico on a Fulbright fellowship before heading to medical school.


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

Thomas A. Saenz

Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, delivered the 2019 Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture. Saenz leads MALDEF’s efforts to promote the civil rights of all Latinos in the U.S., including defending President Obama’s deferred action immigration initiative before the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2016.

Latino Studies Scholars Program

In March 2020, ILS selected the fourth cohort of young leaders into its Latino Studies Scholars Program. Each student will receive $25,000 per year in merit aid until they graduate in 2024. Additionally, ILS provides $5,000 per summer towards an enrichment experience, such as research, courses, or internships in a Latino community. These six incoming freshmen hail from Colorado, New York, Texas, and Georgia.

LSSP first-year class: Miranda Colon, a political science major from Lawrenceville, GA; Genesis Baez, a pre-health major from the Bronx, NY; Yesenia Mendoza-Arriaga, a political science major from Manor, TX; Sylvia Garcia, an accountancy major, Mendoza College of Business, from San Antonio, TX; Paola Ortiz a pre-health major from Hidalgo, TX; and Sofia Casillas, a political science major from Lone Tree, CO.

Yanik Ariste ’22

I’ve gotten even more immersed in communities through the Institute for Latino Studies, which has granted me the opportunity to travel nationally and internationally to pursue my interests.

Most recently, I went to the Jornada por la Justicia, the Journey for Justice, a pilgrimage to the El Paso-Juárez border for a teach-in on border politics and human rights from the perspective of Catholic social justice teaching. We did a walking tour of El Paso—starting and ending in the same place—and when we came back to the 'Welcome to El Paso' sign I saw a Greyhound bus. My dad migrated by taking a Greyhound bus from El Paso to Miami in that very same month 23 years ago. It was a powerful experience to say the least. And the reality is I’ve had so many of these since coming to Notre Dame.”

Yanik Ariste, Scholarship Recipient Class of ‘22, pictured in the Debartolo Performing Arts Center asking Rita Moreno, legend of stage and screen, a question during her university wide talk hosted by ILS in February 2019

A group of six Latino Studies Scholars traveled from Notre Dame to Mexico City last summer as part of the Monterrey Institute of Technology’s Lideres del Mañana (Leaders of Tomorrow) Program, where they met with fellow student leaders committed to transforming their communities.

Aaron Benavides ’21

Aaron Benavides ’21, one of the inaugural Latino Studies Scholars, is pursuing faith through service, building community through writing and design, and understanding where in the world he stands through the study of politics and theology. Through all of those activities, on campus and abroad, he is further exploring his heritage — and contemplating its significance.

LSSP scholars Yanik Ariste ‘22 and Lorena Morejon-Lasso ‘22 gather with other Latinx students to celebrate their cultural heritage.

ND is a very welcoming community. We are Americans and Latinas — we can express who we are and where our grandparents come from with pride.”

—Lorena Morejon-Lasso

Cross-Cultural Leadership Program

The inaugural group of ND students completed internships and coursework in San Juan, Puerto Rico, last July. The students lived in University of Sagrado Corazon dorms and immersed themselves in serving the surrounding neighborhoods gravely impacted by Hurricane Maria. In the fall, these students delivered the outcomes of their water quality study, clinical experience at Health ProMed, and an economic development project at ENLACE Inc. to the greater ND community.


ILS provides year-round programming to the broader ND community and South Bend. As 14% of the undergraduate population identifies as Latina/o/x (not including international students or DACA recipients), ILS scholarly activities strive to meet the demand for inclusive programming on campus.


Immigration Prayer Service

More than 50 faculty, staff, and students gathered at the Grotto monthly throughout the fall 2019 semester to pray about the detention and asylum crisis. Sponsored by ILS, Campus Ministry, Center for Social Concerns, and Alliance for Catholic Education, the prayer service brought Notre Dame community members together to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts as our nation continues to struggle to treat migrants, refugees, families, and children with kindness and justice at our southern border.

Striving for Justice

ILS students, faculty, and alumni traveled to El Paso in October for Teach-In 2019: Jornada por la Justicia, a three-day gathering of Catholic Latino organizers, labor leaders, scholars, and activists. The event featured workshops, leadership tools, strategy sessions, coalition building, nationally recognized speakers, direct public action, and a mass led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago.

“It was a life changing event,” said ILS Director Luis Fraga, a keynote speaker. “To see and feel their hope for a better life, willingness to sacrifice, and capacity to maintain an ever-present faith in God's guidance — these migrants taught us how to live the Gospel and work to do God's will on earth.”

Connect with us at latinostudies.nd.edu