Letter From the Director, Summer 2021

CATEGORIES: Director's Letters

Summer 2021


Dear USLS Friends,

It has been a year of unprecedented challenges that has highlighted the incredible work we are all capable of doing as intersecting communities in a messy world.

In particular, as we wrap up AY 20-21, I want to thank all of the students, staff, faculty, and community members that have made it a rewarding year of discovery and learning across the board.

USLS featured new and updated classes https://usls.las.iastate.edu/featured-courses/, celebrated graduating seniors https://usls.las.iastate.edu/featured-students/, honored award winners https://usls.las.iastate.edu/2021/04/15/latinx-excellence-award-recipients/, and kept going with online and hybrid classes. We have also drafted, confirmed, and published our mission statement https://usls.las.iastate.edu/2020/07/08/usls-mission-statement/.  This is hugely significant for the work of the program, and I wish to thank our USLS faculty and Advisory Council for their thoughtful input.

We worked with a fabulous intern, Miranda Simpson, a public relations student, and welcomed phenomenal graduate student lecturer, John Osorio Torres.

John has accepted an offer to be a part of the Ph.D. in Informatics, with a concentration in Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCI/d) at Indiana University Bloomington. He will pursue his research interests in designing accessible healthcare technologies for people with neurodegenerative diseases and for people of underrepresented groups. We wish him the very best. Thanks John for your enthusiasm and creativity these past three years. We will miss you!

We will be welcoming a new graduate student lecturer, Max Moreno in the fall. Stay tuned for his special feature in September!

We are sad to say goodbye to our founding director, Dr. Hector Avalos https://usls.las.iastate.edu/2021/04/16/dr-hector-avalos-2/, and grateful for all of the wisdom and intellectual generosity he shared during his life. When I first arrived to this position as director, he took the time to tell me all there is to know about the first years, the challenges and the joys of this kind of work. I remain grateful for his warm welcome and generous collegiality.

I want to give special thanks to our advisory council member Elizabeth Martinez Podolsky for all of the enthusiastic work she has done throughout the years for USLS. She was one of the people who interviewed me when I visited for this position in 2016! Elizabeth has accepted a position at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine where she will be the first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I want to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Elizabeth for all of the assistance she has given me personally and all of our students expansively. We will miss her; but also wish her the best as she grows in her career, for which she has proven to be especially gifted.

I am delighted to welcome our newest Advisory Council member, Adriana Gonzalez-Elliot from Academic Coaching and Outreach. We have a stellar team that will be planning and plotting the program’s strategic plan over the course of the next 18 months.

Next year, I will be on leave for the fall of 2021, to work on my book on Latina memoirs, and my colleague Dr. Megan Jeannette Myers has enthusiastically offered to serve as the acting chair. She brings a lot of energy and creativity to the program and I feel lucky that USLS has such wonderful faculty to continue this important work. Please stay tuned to see her feature on our homepage, as she discusses the projects she envisions for the Fall semester.

This summer we are continuing with our USLS Rising Stars Pilot Program, which was put on hold in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. We are happy to welcome Maria Duran Sanchez and Neylise Larregui Cintron, who will be working with Dr. Jon Wolseth and Extension and Outreach throughout the summer.

Our USLS 499 internship class is proving to be a foundational part of the USLS minors’ experience. I am delighted to introduce Jacqueline Cruz and Iris Martinez, our summer scholarship interns. Jacqueline will be working with Sonia Reyes at the Office of Latino Affairs, Iowa Department of Human Rights in Des Moines; and Iris will continue her work collecting oral histories from Latinx individuals affected by COVID for the USLS/Parks Library/UT Austin collaborative project, Voces of the Pandemic https://usls.las.iastate.edu/2021/04/16/iris-martinez/.  Congratulations to them, our latest USLS summer internship scholarship students!

We now have a USLS newsletter to treat you to highlights of the program. Please share widely with our community!

It has been an amazing year of challenges, successes, new connections, and hopeful collaborations amongst us. The continued work proves the importance of Latinx studies and our many intersecting communities at ISU and throughout Iowa.  I remain grateful and inspired for all the goodness we accomplish together.

Don’t forget to visit our homepage regularly to see what we are up to at the USLS Program https://usls.las.iastate.edu/!

I wish you all a regenerative and exciting summer.


Warmest regards,

Lucía M. Suárez, Ph.D.