Wednesday, February 1, 2023
  Awards and Recognitions, Around Campus

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, UTRGV associate professor of Mexican American Studies and director of the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), has been awarded a research fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Alvarez is one of 17 faculty from across the United States to receive a Faculty Award Fellowship through NEH.

The prestigious individual award was granted for Alvarez’s project, “Contemporary Radical Voices: Chicana Feminism on the U.S. Mexico Texas Border at the Turn of the 21st Century,” which analyzes ways Chicana artists, poets and community organizers from the U.S. – Mexico border region of the Rio Grande Valley have responded to the rise in anti-Latina/o/x policies through Chicana feminist practices within their work.

Alvarez said the inspiration behind her project stemmed from the mujeres/women of the Valley who push and work daily for positive social change.

“They may not hold political offices or high-ranking government jobs, but they are the ones doing the work and bringing attention to the issues that matter most to the community,” she said. “They sacrifice a lot, and I am inspired every day by so many of them. I really just wanted to not only document and visibilize their work but honor them now while they are still with us.”

The NEH is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the countries. And independent federal agency, it awards grants for top-rated proposals that have been examined by panels of internal and external reviewers.

Alvarez said this fellowship will allow her to continue her work under the Awards for Faculty program designated by NEH, for 12 months of full-time research.

Within that time, Alvarez said, she will use qualitative research methodologies to conduct extensive interviews with local poets, artists and community organizers, as well as review archival print, digital and other public works centered on Chicanas.

She will explore the collective works of both local poets and artists who center and/or speak to the lived experiences along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Guiding these interviews and reviews will be an aim to better understand not only how the work of these Chicanas is informed by Chicana feminist thought, but also how their work contributes to developing new theories about Chicana feminisms,” she said.

Alvarez said the recognition from NEH validates the importance of her research and the work she has done over the years to help uplift the voices and experiences of people in the Rio Grande Valley.

For UTRGV, she said, the recognition affirms the importance of establishing the university as a bilingual and bicultural institution.

Alvarez’s ultimate goal is to publish a book, with an accompanying website to supplement the book and allow broader access to the material. She hopes her work reaches the community to highlight the countless endeavors of the powerful women of the Valley.

“There is a saying in Spanish: ‘Sin mujeres no hay revolución,’” she said. (Without women there is no revolution.) “I agree 100% with that statement. What I hope our community will see is that there are so many women doing so much, every day, to improve the lives of people in the Rio Grande Valley. I see them and I hope that through my work more people will as well.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.