#IAMUH Story

Ruth M. López, PhD
Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Ruth Lopez

When did you first become aware of your Hispanic/Latino identity?

When I first read this question, I was taken aback--as I've always thought of my ethnic identity as something I've always been, however, how I label myself and identify has shifted throughout my life. My parents are from El Salvador and Mexico and so my sense of identity I would say until high school was driven by how they raised me. In high school, I became involved in Hispanic/Latino organizations, and so I identified with these labels more. In college, I majored in Mexican American Studies and was a student activist, there I identified as Chicana for historical, social, political, and cultural reasons. I see myself as a member of the Latina/o/x Community (I shy away from the term Hispanic), however I identify myself as a Chicana/Latina, Salvadoran/Salvadoreña, Mexican/Mexican-American.

What do you wish people knew about the Hispanic/Latino culture?

As my answer above might indicate, is that just like any other ethnic and racialized group, we are complex and come from diverse backgrounds. In the United States in particular, there is also an assumption that all Latina/o/x individuals are immigrants. Many are, yes, but many in our community have been in this country since before it was the United States and before the current borders existed. We are often seen as not being full Americans for a number of reasons, and as an education scholar I think all students should learn about the contributions that have been made to this country for generations by the Latino community.

What is your fondest memory of celebrating this identity?

This has changed for me over time, particularly now that I am a mother and passing down traditions to my children, but I'll share one. I was raised in a household that practiced Catholicism with strong Mexican traditions. We had posadas during Christmas time and ate special foods depending on the holiday. I'm grateful for the education I received in my community that reflected generations of traditions.

Are there any departments or organizations on campus that have supported your personal development and growth as a Hispanic/Latino person? If so, how?

I am a faculty mentor and researcher for Las Comadres College Mentoring Program through the Urban Experience Program. I learn so much from our students and mentors and grateful to have this community of Latinas on campus.