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Alumni Spotlight


Olivia Quintanilla (Ph.D. '20)

Dr. Olivia Quintanilla from MiraCosta College was honored by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors with the 2023-24 Exemplary Program Award for her outstanding efforts in promoting and advancing ethnic studies programs.


"MiraCosta College’s successfully meticulous approach involved establishing a work group comprising faculty and students that led to a new Ethnic Studies Department in fall of 2022 and the hiring of the college’s first full-time, ethnic studies faculty member, Dr. Olivia Quintanilla, who designed and taught several sections of Introduction to Ethnic Studies. She also proposed several new courses – Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies, Introduction to Chicana/o Studies, Introduction to Black Studies and Introduction to Pacific Islander and Oceania Studies – to be offered this coming fall. This past fall, six of seven existing classes were filled with waitlists."

Read the full press release here:


Jason Magabo Perez (Ph.D. '16)

Jason Magabo Perez, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at CSU San Marcos. He has been named San Diego Poet Laureate for 2023-2024! 


Jason Magabo Perez is the author of This is for the mostless (WordTech Editions, 2017) and I ask about what falls away (1913 Press, Forthcoming 2023). Perez blends poetry, prose, performance, film/video, ethnography, and oral history to explore Filipino American histories, colonialism, state violence, migration, memory, and intimacy. Perez’s prose, poetry, and poetics have appeared in various publications such as Interim, Witness, Entropy, Eleven Eleven, The Feminist Wire, Faultline, The Operating System, Kalfou, ASAP/Journal, TAYO, Mission at Tenth, and Marías at Sampaguitas. Perez has written, developed, and performed three staged multimedia performance works: The Passion of El Hulk Hogancito (2009); You Will Gonna Go Crazy (2011), which was commissioned by Kularts, Inc. and funded by a Challenge America Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; and Blue Bin Improvisations (2018), which was commissioned and presented by MexiCali Biennial and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.

For over 20 years, Perez has performed, delivered keynote addresses, lectured, and convened and facilitated dialogues, panels, and workshops in public libraries, community centers, and K-12, college, and university classrooms. A founding member of the San Diego-based Freedom Writers Spoken Word Collective, Perez has been a Featured Artist at the New Americans Museum, Community Scholar-in-Residence at the San Diego Public Library, and Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Art and Thought (CA+T). Perez has performed at notable venues such as the National Asian American Theatre Festival, International Conference of the Philippines, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Public Library, Galoka, and La Jolla Playhouse.

From 2007-2016, Perez taught writing, performance, and ethnic studies at several college and university campuses throughout San Diego; and from 2016-2019, Perez was Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino. Alumnus of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation Writing Workshops for Writers of Color, Perez holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California and a dual Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and Communication from University of California, San Diego. Perez presently serves as Community Arts Fellow at Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, Associate Editor at Ethnic Studies Review, and is a core organizer of The Digital Sala. Perez is now Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at California State University San Marcos. Perez currently resides in Clairemont Mesa.

Read the full article here.


Emelyn A. dela Peña, Ed.D (B.A. '95)

Loyola Marymony University Names Emelyn A. dela Peña as Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 


Emelyn A. dela Peña, a standard-bearer in higher education social justice leadership, will be Loyola Marymount University’s next vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the university announced today.

Vice President dela Peña brings to LMU her 26 years of experience in higher education and a focus in Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion scholarship and practice. Most recently, she served as associate vice provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning at Stanford University, a post she has held since 2019.

“VP dela Peña’s leadership in diversity and social justice work, from an intersectional perspective, enables her to encounter understanding across multiple identities and experiences while remaining steadfast to anti-racist principles,” said LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “Her commitment to LMU’s mission and values will embolden our efforts as we seek to create the world we want to live in.”

Read the whole press release here.


Fnann Keflezighi (B.A. '11)

UC San Diego welcomed Fnann Keflezighi as the new Cross-Cultural Center Director! 


Read firsthand from Fnann what the CCC means to her and what she hopes to bring to the space:

"The Cross-Cultural Center was the very first place at UC San Diego (and in my life) that I felt my intersectional identities as Black, working-class, English language learner, daughter of refugees, anti-gender norms and so many others identities and values were seen, validated and a space where I could process the beauty and challenges of them. The Cross also became the space where I got to think critically about societal inequities, unlearn/question my socialization process, build coalitions and learn what it meant to be in solidarity with the community- with bumps and healing along the way. The CCC, along with SAAC, SPACES, Ethnic Studies, DOC, and Education Studies courses helped me realize the ways structural inequity is perpetuated and what collective work can do to bring about people-centered change, value-aligned community spaces we can build, and what imagining a different university and world could look like. After a decade of doing educational equity work in K-12 and higher education, I am so honored to return to my roots and to engage alongside students and colleagues to continue the actualization of equity and inclusion." 

Read more about Fnann's role here.