ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Students at the University of New Mexico now have the opportunity to earn their masters online in Chicana and Chicano studies. It is the first program of its kind in the country.
Department chair Dr Irene Vasquez said UNM is ahead of most universities in providing ethnic studies degrees to undergraduate and graduate students. “The academic goal of Chicana and Chicano studies is integral to the economic security and well-being of the Mexican and Hispanic communities in the state of New Mexico,” said Vasquez.
Students study the historical, economic, and social realities of Hispanic culture as it relates to the Southwestern United States. Students can expect to graduate from one to two years.
Anisa Baca is in her first year of the Masters program. She said what drew her to the program was the opportunity to learn more about her own heritage. “I think the program offers a lot of opportunities to support communities like mine,” Baca said. “I think that’s a really important option because I think it helps us understand ourselves, it helps us understand our communities, the needs of our communities, and I think when we do that we can build something. something that benefits us all. “
Not only will the program educate students about Hispanic history and culture, but Vasquez also said it helps them hone their problem-solving, analytical reasoning and communication skills through writing. Compared to last year, the department saw 36% more applications for the program, which Vasquez said could also be due to the new online option.
The course is also available for non-traditional and out-of-state students, for which Vasquez is grateful. “The online master’s degree is available to everyone in the world, but in particular we hope to reach our rural communities, our adults who are working full time or caring for young children at home. We see that our online degree, even at the bachelor’s level, serves these kinds of populations, ”Vasquez said.
Howard Griego is a second year masters student who transferred from CNM to pursue a masters degree in Chicana and Chicano studies. “I fell in love with the program because I heard my story for the very first time. I heard the story of my condition, from the people I’m used to, and it was something new to me, ”Griego said. “As a non-traditional student, having the online option makes it more accessible to marginalized people or people who live in rural communities.”
Through the in-person master’s program, the department found that 80% of students were from New Mexico. “It’s a point of pride for us because as a state research university, we have to search locally. We need to look into the front, back, and side yards of college and bring our New Mexico students into graduate school, ”Vasquez said.
In an effort to encourage residents of the state to learn about New Mexico’s history, the Chicana and Chicano Studies Program offers a series of pipeline programs through Albuquerque Public Schools to ensure that high school students are ready for college. The department works with them as they become students of UNM.
Corky Frausto, a second year PhD. a student in the chicana and chicano studies program, entered the program as a high school teacher who taught Mexican-American studies. Through collaborations between the high school and the department, Frausto was inspired to delve deeper into the story and join the program at UNM.
Frausto continues to teach as part of her doctorate. program. “I saw the biggest impact with my students in high school. They can take dual credit courses, so they can take a course through high school and get credits here at UNM through the department, ”Frausto said.
Vasquez said that anyone, regardless of level of study, can apply for the masters program online. Visit the UNM website for more information.