A former scholarship kid/boarding school brat, recovering a sense of ethnocentric anti-colonial belonging grounds her historic collaboration with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, IL, and its projects, including her former yet brief participation in the Café Teatro Batey Urbano, Humboldt Park Participatory Democracy Project, and later on the Conuco Farmer’s Market and National Boricua Human Rights Network. What started as an undergraduate research assistantship in December 2003, evolved into a lifelong political-professional relationship following the ebbs and flows of youth community engagement, leadership development, with particular attention to the role sexuality and gender play in sustaining commitment. She concluded her formal research with this community and its networks in her role as Center for Puerto Rican Studies Notable Puerto Rican Project Chicago based oral historian. During her 14 months in this role, she interviewed over 20 nominees, vetted more than 2 dozen, while attending community meetings in Chicago, Cleveland and New York as they pertained to the National Puerto Rican Agenda, Oscar Lopez Rivera’s amnesty campaign and the voting/visibility crisis of Puerto Ricans in a shifting and dissolving diaspora.
The time she spent away from Puerto Ricans, she worked with immigrant Latinx or and queer youth. These other projects, applied the questions of belonging and dissent to community engagement outside the pan-Latinx frame of her Midwest, global city home town. She supported undergraduate student-led movements against xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, while documenting the daily struggles of graduate students of color, like herself, negotiating the professionalization tensions against the daily microagressions they endured in the classroom, on campus and with each other. These experiences formulated the alternative question of Latina/women of color social/professional networks for Women in Higher Ed, resulting in an essay series titled “Latina Intellectual Sisterhoods.” She continues to be interested in social networks of underrepresented graduate students, specifically how they build and sustain them in light of systemic and institutional discrimination, isolation, and tokenization.