McNair Program Staff


mcruz pic 2018

Dr. Maria E. Cruz,  Director

Dr. Maria Elena Cruz is a descendant of the Huichol (Wixaritari ) people of Mexico, and was born in Northern California. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college and the first to receive her Ph.D. She received her B.A. in English with an emphasis on Twentieth Century Literature (from Modern to Contemporary ) Anglophone and Multicultural Studies from U.C. Berkeley (2004). Dr. Cruz is also proud to be a McNair Scholar Alumnus from U.C. Berkeley. She completed her Masters in Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of Texas Austin (2007) and a Ph.D. from the same department in 2013. Currently, Dr. Cruz is working with the McNair Scholars Program at San Jose State University as the new Director, Research Advisor and Instructor, and feels blessed to be here at this particular time. Dr. Cruz loves the process of helping students apply to doctoral programs and assisting them with creating and developing their research. In addition, Dr. Cruz  loves to spend time with her family, friends and enjoys traveling.


marthatoralMartha Toral,

Administrative Assistant

Martha is a first generation student and native born San Jose, Californian. Her love of the sciences inspired her decision to major in STEM. She graduated from SJSU with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Martha is a wonderful new addition to the office and has reorganized the entire program. She is awesome and we are thankful for her!