Cruz, Maria Elena PhD

Cruz, Maria Elena

Director Aspire/McNair Scholars Programs
Lecturer Mexican American Studies




Preferred: 408-924-2539



  • Doctor of Philosophy, Univ Of Texas At Austin, 2013
  • Master of Social Science, Univ Of Texas At Austin, Texas, United States, 2007
  • Bachelor of Arts, Univ Of Cal-Berkeley, California, United States, 2004


Dr. Cruz is a decendent of the Wixáritari (Huichol indigenous Mexican Nation) who was born in Northern California. Dr. Cruz is the first person in her family to graduate from college and the first to receive a Ph.D. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 2004, and majored in English with an emphasis on Twentieth Century Literature (from Modern to Contemporary) Anglophone and Multicultural Studies with honors. Maria received her Masters in Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of Texas Austin in 2007 and her PhD. from the same department in 2013. As a doctoral student, Maria was awarded the National Science Foundation Award for three years. Maria is a socio-cultural anthropologist specializing in Indigenous and Mexican American Oral Stories, and Oral History as well as Testimonio in the U.S. – Mexico borderlands. Her research interests align closely with her teaching experience, which includes teaching undergraduate courses at the University of Texas at Austin in the areas of Anthropology, History, Mexican American Studies (CMAS), and Indigenous Studies Program. Maria also teaches Indigenous and Mexican American History in the Mexican American Studies (MAS) department at San Jose State University, CA.  Dr. Cruz is also the new Director to the Aspire/McNair Scholars Programs,(TRIO) which helps first generation, low income and underrepresented students develop undergraduate research and continue on to PhD programs across the nation.