Students recognized for their contributions to Latino Studies

Each year, the Institute for Latino Studies recognizes exemplary work by undergraduate and graduate students in the humanities and social sciences.

This past academic year, five students were recognized for their written work in classes related to Latino Studies or Spanish-speaking populations. Four graduate students and one undergraduate students were celebrated for their contributions.

They were Manuel Rodriguez, Roger Cadena, Jr., Aileen Vezeau, Ester Aguirre Alfaro, and Clayton Glasgow.

Graduation Ceremony Group Picture 1
(Top row, left to right) Professors Luis Fraga, Marisel Moreno, Nydia Morales-Soto & Karen Richman. From the left to right, the students are Manuel Rodriguez, Roger Cadena, Jr., Aileen Vezeau, & Clayton Glasgow (Credit: Oliver Ortega | ILS).

This is the fourth year of the José E. Limón Best Paper Award competition, named after retired ILS Director and Professor Emeritus of English, Dr. José E. Limón, a pioneer in advancing Latino Studies and mentoring Latino PhD students in the United States.

Cadena’s paper was “’Beyond Brownness’: An analysis of Latinx Racial Identity and Partisanship, 2009-2018.” Cadena, a PhD candidate in Sociology, recently published an article in the publication The Sociology of Race and Ethnicity entitled “Paradoxical Politics? Partisan Politics, Ethnoracial Ideologies, and the Assimilated consciousnesses of Latinx Republicans.” He also led the Latino Studies working group for graduate students this past year.

Clayton Glasgow, an Environmental Science major, was a student in the course“Latino Health: Social, Cultural and Scientific Perspectives.” The class was co-taught by Professors Nydia Morales-Soto and Karen Richman.

Richman is the academic director for the ILS, and Morales-Soto, in addition to being a faculty fellow, is also assistant director of the Eck Institute for Global Health. The class is being offered again this semester.

(See our Latino Studies course offerings this semester)

“In a class with great participation and engagement, Clayton stood out,” Morales-Soto wrote in her nomination letter for the senior. “Clayton valued and engaged with anthropological and scientific perspectives as critical components of these complex health issues and started thinking about his class paper very early in the semester.”

Ester Aguirre Alfaro’s paper focused on the trauma of thousands of immigrant families being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work was titled “Interrupted Mother: The Collective Trauma of Family Separation.” Aguirre Alfaro is an M.A. candidate in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

For his part, Manuel Rodriguez, a PhD student in Sociology, was selected for writing “The Importance of Faith: Religion and Latinx Americans’ Attitudes toward Immigration Policy.”

Aileen Vezeau, an M.A. student in Prof. Marisel Moreno’s “Borders and Bridges” course, won the prize with her essay “Unable to be Seen by the Naked Eye: In Search for Afro-Latinx Visibility.” She is now pursuing a PhD in Literary, Cultural and Linguistic Studies at the University of Miami.

Winners received a $500 in addition to a commemorative certificate. The recipients were selected by ILS director and Professor of Political Science, Dr. Luis Fraga.

The ceremony took place on May 10th in the scholar’s lounge of ILS, located on the third floor of Bond Hall.

You can find our course offerings this semester on our website. To enroll in the ILS Supplementary Major or Minor contact Dr. Karen Richman, Director of Undergraduate Studies, by emailing or calling (574) 631-8146. We also encourage you to visit us at 315 Bond Hall.

Originally published by Oliver Ortega at on August 30, 2023.