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 first-generation descendant of the Wixáritari (Huichol Indigenous Mexican) and was born in Northern California. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college. In 2004, she graduated from U.C. Berkeley with an English major, with an emphasis on Twentieth Century Literature, ranging from Modern to Contemporary. In 2007, she received her Master's degree in Social Cultural Anthropology from the University of Texas Austin. In 2013, she received her Ph.D. from the same department, and as a doctoral student, she was awarded the National Science Foundation Award. Dr. Cruz specializes in Indigenous and Mexican American Oral Stories, Oral History, and Testimonio in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Currently, she teaches Indigenous and Mexican American Oral History/Tradition and Testimonio in the Chicana/o Studies (CCS) department at San Jose State University, CA.  Additionally, she directs the Aspire/McNair Scholars (TRIO) Programs, which support first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, helping them with retention and graduation, and developing undergraduate research skills to pursue Ph.D. programs nationwide