Grad Students

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Dre Abeita

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Dre Abeita

Instagram: @DreAbeita

Dre Abeita is studying a Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies major.

Dre Abeita, real-life Isleta Pueblo Superhero is an Indigenous, two-spirited, queer, multiple-trauma survivor, PTSD-diagnosed, neurodiverse (ADHD, OCD), medical marijuana researcher/advocate and critical race theory (CRT), whiteness, and intersectional activist/scholar. Dre is currently a 11th year doctoral candidate in the Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. Since 2016, Dre has held over 32 leadership roles and brought over $187K of resources to my constituents. Currently, they are honored to be the @NMHumanitiesNow Social Media Graduate Assistant, a professional civil rights advocate, critical auto-ethnographer, and vlogger with over 30k+ followers.

Come join our amazing Lobo family by exploring a Humanities major or minor. As a graduate assistant for NMHumanitiesNOW, I am a resource for you and can help ease your transition to UNM main campus from CNM or one of our UNM branch campuses. Joining us at UNM main campus will allow you to access resources, faculty, and staff that will become part of your professional and educational networks for life. The relationships that you build while pursuing your degree will help to support and ground you in your career. Overall, becoming a Lobo was an excellent decision for my future. I look forward to seeing you relaxing by the Duck Pond or in Zimmerman grabbing a Starbucks. #GoLobos

UNM offers many research opportunities. For the last two years, it has been my honor to advise incoming undergraduates and support them on their own research projects. NMHumanitiesNOW offers a scholarship for Humanities transfer students who are engaged in a research topic with an approved UNM advisor. This is a great opportunity to get financial support while gaining research field experience. Please consider applying and taking advantage of this great program. I look forward to mentoring our upcoming Lobo leaders.

Behan  Alavi

M.A. Student

Photo: Behan  Alavi
I am an international student from Iran. I've been in the US for 8 years. I have a bachelors in Philosophy and Computer Science. I've dedicated many years of my life to STEM, most recently working for 3 years in a technology company. Being dissatisfied with my life and seeing the shortcomings of STEM, I came back to the humanities and am now pursuing a career in philosophy and writing. It is my firmest belief that doing what you love is much more important than chasing money and success.

The Philosophy Department at UNM has an advantage over many other philosophy programs because of its global approach. Our faculty are experts both in Western and non Western philosophy. Most philosophy programs in the US, following the Anglo American tradition, only offer dry analytical logical courses. UNM on the other hand has many experts on Continental and Buddhist philosophy, emphasizing the importance of literature, myth, and many other usually ignored aspects of philosophy.

Lupita Aviles

M.A. Student

Photo: Lupita Aviles

Instagram: @lupita.aviles.568

I am a first-generation, Mexican American, Master's student. I was born in Illinois but grew up in Texas my whole life. I always knew from little that I wanted to get into education, partly because of my responsibility to my parents but mostly because of my own interests. I chose to go to college at Ripon College, located in Ripon, Wisconsin. The first year of my undergraduate studies was hard because of the immense change in the environment that I was accustomed to back home. I often felt like I didn't belong there and doubted my abilities because of the constant comparison with my peers who came from different social, economic, and linguistic backgrounds than me. I eventually found healthy ways to manage these feelings and continued on with my academic journey. During my undergraduate studies, I had many opportunities to do research, work independently with my Professors, and become more involved with the community. After I got my bachelor's in Spanish I decided to go to graduate school at UNM. The change from a small liberal arts college to a large university was very scary at first but I am glad to be here at UNM as I have gotten to know lots of amazing people both in and outside of my master's program!

UNM has a wide range of majors/choices of study within the humanities. I chose the humanities at UNM because of my program's interdisciplinary approach to Latin American Studies. I knew that I wanted to conduct research on my interests in history, language, and art within Mexico, specifically centering on the lens of indigeneity. The MALAS program (Masters in Latin American Studies) at UNM allows me to focus on all my research interests while also providing opportunities to work within multiple departments. From my time here at UNM, I have a newfound interest in linguistic anthropology which I have been able to incorporate into my final research project. I have also been able to meet wonderful scholars and hear about their interesting scholarly work through events. One of the main reasons for choosing the humanities at UNM for me was because of the indigenous languages program which has allowed me to learn Nahuatl from beginner to advanced level. UNM also has amazing collections at Zimmerman Library, for me I love the Latin American collections, which was also one of the reasons for choosing the humanities at UNM.

In my undergraduate institution, Ripon College, I've had many humanities research experiences ranging from literary research on the role of nostalgia and trauma in the novel "Cien años de soledad", to researching and preparing art exhibitions, to film analysis of the Argentinian film "Felicitas". I've also collaborated with the Univercity Alliance at UW-Madison to interview local artist in the Wisconsin Rapids area on their perspectives on public art. I also had the opportunity to do research at UW-Madison through the Summer Education Research Program. I conducted research on the importance of critical language awareness pedagogy in heritage language classrooms.

As a graduate student at UNM, I have also had many opportunities involving the humanities. My first year as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to learn Nahuatl, an indigenous language of Mexico through the LAII indigenous languages program. I have also been awarded the FLAS fellowship through the LAII during the summer and both academic years which have helped me fund my graduate studies. This past summer with the help of the FLAS fellowship I was able to attend the University of Utah's Nahuatl Summer Language Program which greatly helped immerse myself in the language and network with other peers and faculty interested in Nahua scholarship. I also had the honor to participate in a summer English-Nahuatl Workshop in collaboration with IDIEZ (Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas) in Tecomate, Chicontepec located in Veracruz, Mexico. Through funding from the LAII and the UNM Global Education Office, I was able to fully fund this opportunity. In this workshop, I taught English to elementary students in Nahuatl with the goal that the students would become proud and comfortable to speak Nahuatl more openly. I am currently working on archival research looking at colonial documents from Tlaxcala, Mexico in order to understand how Tlaxcalans viewed and understood their own identity.

Isaac Brown

M.A. Student

Photo: Isaac Brown
I am a Mellon Representative for Languages, Cultures, and Literatures & International Studies Institute; Master's Student in the Linguistics Department.

Humans are infinitely interesting and vary in an incredible number of ways. The humanities departments at UNM offer a number of fields and disciplines for students to study and engage with peoples and cultures for a better understanding of people and a more diverse and greater appreciation of all our differences and commonalities as humankind.

Independent Study on Con-Langs.

Rachael Cassidy

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Rachael Cassidy


Native American Preparatory School, (high school); Colorado College (B. A.); University of New Mexico (M.A. and Ph.D)

The Humanities help people think as human beings--not in terms of profits or numbers but in stories, art, history, communications, literature, philosophy, languages, and cultures. As a minority-majority institution, UNM is in a unique position to promote the Humanities in New Mexico (including the 23 tribal nations in the state). The Humanities are relevant and present on the UNM campus simply through the milieu of daily life in Albuquerque.

She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a doctoral candidate in the Department of History where she specializes in Indigenous history and methodologies, urban Native history, memory studies, oral history, and public history. She was the first Native person to serve as the Managing Editor of the New Mexico Historical Review during the journal’s 95-year publication history. Her dissertation explores the social history of Native residents of Washington, D.C., including Indigenous diplomats and their relatives, activists, federal employees, and local tribal nations. Rachael’s background in filmmaking will contribute to an interactive website that will share her research and primary sources with wider audiences. This public history-style digital space will include short, edited videos that feature individuals, organizations, and locations. Rachael’s decade of public history experience includes initial educational program development at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington D.C.

Lauren Haupt

M.A. Student

Photo: Lauren Haupt

Instagram: @la.ha.ha

City of Boulder's Tribal Consultations, Caddo Mounds State Historic Site's Caddo "Koohoot Kiwat" Grass House Build 2021, University of Missouri-St. Louis "Heritage and the Human Spirit" Pilot Program.

Josh Heckman

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Josh Heckman

Joshua Heckman-Archibeque grew up in a Chicano household in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Josh's culture and identity have influenced their research and career path. Josh joined the New Mexico Air National Guard (like their abuelo) at 19 to help pay for their undergraduate tuition. Josh started their academic career at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and their Philosophy and History professors profoundly impacted their career. After graduating with an Associate in Liberal Arts, Josh transferred to the University of New Mexico and Majored in Philosophy and American Studies. El Centro de la Raza, MEChA, advisors, and their friends in the Service Learning program guided them through undergrad, and they were only successful with the support of others. Josh's professors at UNM encouraged them to apply to graduate school. Josh went on to earn their MA in American Studies at UNM and is currently a Ph.D. candidate. Josh is a Part-Time faculty with CNM, and this semester, Josh started working with Mellon and Extended Pathways to teach Introduction to Chicana and Chicano Studies at CNM. Josh is proud to introduce CNM students to the humanities. Josh is humbled to be guiding the students who have come after them and to give back to my community.

Humanities is critical to understanding ourselves, our communities, and our world. The humanities allow students to research and learn about their communities' social relations and material conditions and challenge dominant ideologies. The humanities give students the tools to be community leaders and address community problems.

The humanities allowed Josh to study at El Colegio de Mexico, the University Guadalajara in Mexico, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria in Canada. Josh's research has taken them across the Southwest to conduct oral history interviews of nuevomexicano elders on New Mexico history and to conduct online and physical archival research in the Southwest.

Ruben Loza

M.A. Student

Photo: Ruben Loza

Instagram: @ruben_loza

I graduated from an arts-based university in Savannah, Georgia in 2022.

I want to focus my design work around Chicanx + Mexican communities and causes and write on culturally prevalent matters.

My research interests feeds into the 15th annual Fandango Fronterizo music event along the San Diego-Tijuana border. 

Tomide Oloruntobi

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Tomide Oloruntobi

Instagram: @ogbenitomide

Tomide Oloruntobi is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication and Journalism. He is a postcolonial scholar of African and Black Diasporic identities, media, literature, language, and culture. His research interests include critical intercultural communication, African Cinema, race, and social class, African knowledge systems, and gender and women studiers. Tomide’s scholarship foregrounds intersectional reflexivity and critical topics around race, embodiment, ideology, and (im)impossibilities of globalization. Tomide’s works have been awarded winner of the May 2021 Interactive Poster Award by the Ethnicity & Race in Communication Division of International Communication Association and Top Student Paper by the International and Intercultural Communication Division of National Communication Association. Tomide has also been named among Glenda Lewis Critical Race Scholar Award winners by UNM Graduate Studies. 

Brandy Reeves

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Brandy Reeves

I am currently a PhD student in American Literary Studies in the Department of English. Before coming to UNM, I went to school in North Carolina where I got my Bachelor of Arts in English at Salem College and my Master of Arts in English literature at North Carolina State University. In between my time in school, I have worked in the government sector at taught Composition courses for two years at a community college.

I came to UNM because of my research interests in motherhood in American literature. I wanted to look at literature written by Chicana, Native American, and African American women in the United States. Because I already had a background in African-American literature, I came to UNM because it has strong programs and links to Chicana/o and Native American/Indigenous literature and narrative studies. It was a good choice for my research and teaching interests to take an in-depth look at these studies.

Much of humanities research is spending hours in a library reading. Some of that reading involves looking at the library’s archives that have boxes of papers on important people in history. This semester, I am going to be traveling to the Witliff Library at the University of Texas San Marcos campus to look at the Sandra Cisneros collection. In 2015, Cisneros donated 305 boxes worth of documents that show her life, writing, career, and personal and business endeavors. Part of being a Humanities scholar is looking at the life of the person you are researching and I get to spend two weeks going through those boxes to discover more information about Cisneros and see what inspired her writings. This will be part of my dissertation project. In the past, I’ve conducted research at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library as well.

Kara Roanhorse

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Kara Roanhorse
Kara Roanhorse is a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She is Diné (Navajo) from Tó’hajiilee, NM. Kara graduated with her B.A. from Brown University with honors in Ethnic Studies in 2018, focusing on Indigenous studies and public policy. She teaches the courses: Introduction to Southwest Studies and Indigenous film. As a graduate student, Kara is building on her previous honors thesis research on Native youth's experiential knowledge, feminist technoscience, and online/offline resistance by way of utilizing social media for revolutionary purposes. Kara is interested in the intersections of Black and Indigenous feminisms, Critical Indigenous studies centering Native youth, U.S. empire and anti-imperialism, and Diné (Navajo) studies. Her current research project focuses on radical caretaking as movement and memory, the school-to-prison pipeline, and youth movement-building through the lens of queer Indigenous feminist pedagogies and praxis. Kara is a Glenda Lewis Critical Scholar and previously received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and Beinecke Scholarship. She also works part-time with Native youth at the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board.

Jesus Tavarez

M.A. Student


When I graduated from High School, my father gave me two decisions, either begin working or go to school. As a first-generation student, I chose school and felt confused yet determined to pursue higher education. After all the obstacles in my way, and confusing and frustrating moments, I graduated from community college, a four-year institution, and I am a couple of months away from achieving a graduate education.

The Chicanx studies program at UNM is a very friendly, supportive, and professional program that cares for its students and assures that every student receives the proper help they need. In addition, the Chicanx studies program at UNM is a national powerhouse in this area of study, being one of few institutions that offer online study and in-person for a professional degree.

I am currently researching the modern campesino conditions in the Salinas Valley, California to advocate for farmworker well-being. I hope to offer awareness of the campesino working and living conditions in order to help them obtain better healthcare or social assistance in any way due to the fact that their labor is crucial for society.

Travis Thompson

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Travis Thompson

My undergraduate degree is from UNM with a double major in Native American Studies and Anthropology. However, I've had a range of different work and academic experiences. I took a break between earning an Associates of Applied Science in Film and returning to academics a decade later. During that time I worked as a furniture and cabinet maker in NM and WA, as well as a cameraperson for music and documentary films. I first returned to school at UNM-Taos branch and took a limited number of courses online while I was still working full-time. Then, with the help of work-study, undergraduate research opportunities that offered scholarships, and other campus services for underrepresented and low-income students, I was able to move to Albuquerque and complete my degree in-person. Making the move to main campus gave me the chance to connect with other students, professors, and campus groups that led to my current positions in Mellon and the Center for Southwest Research, and has led to other research and community involvement.

Speaking from my experiences in humanities at UNM in the Native American Studies and now Chicana and Chicano Studies programs, I can say that I appreciate how interdisciplinary the programs are. I have learned frameworks and practices that will assist me in helping my community in ways that fit my skills, interests, and upbringing. As well, the connections between community organizations and folks in my academic departments, helps me see practical directions I can take my degree when I finish school.

During my time in the humanities programs at UNM, I have had the opportunity to attend and present at conferences, and host and volunteer at important community gatherings. As an undergraduate, I was an El Puente undergraduate research Fellow supported by El Centro de la Raza. My research proposal, which inquired into traditional running traditions as land-based research, led to co-organizing the Traditions of Endurance conference, a primarily Indigenous discussion and celebration of the many roles of dancing and running. Along with my current role as a Mellon Graduate Assistant, which gives me the chance to support other transfer and non-traditional students achieve success in humanities programs, I hold a position as the Distinctive Native American Collections Fellow at the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections. In this position I have the chance to assist with various projects of preservation, accessibility, outreach, and generating new culturally appropriate models of managing archival content.