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Latinx Stars in the Constellation of the Rising Star

Latinx Stars are Texas State University Faculty or Staff member who has been exceptional in the advancement of Latinos in post-secondary education. 

Awards will be presented during the HPN Annual Symposium on April 16, 2021, through Zoom from 12:30 PM to 12:45 PM. 

Several awards will be presented to both faculty and staff members including graduate students who hold paid positions within the university (i.e. instructional assistantships, research assistantships, assistantships, etc.).

2017-2018 Recipients

Recently, at the HPN Symposium, five faculty and staff were recognized as Latinx Stars. These five Latinas (emphasizing that all recipients this year are women) are (left to right):

  • Dr. Susana Villanueva Eguia Lis, Modern Languages Department/College of Liberal Arts (second from left)
  • Dr. Laura Rodriguez Amaya, LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research & College of Education (left-center)
  • Ms. Michelle Monique Sotolongo Riquer, Honors College (right-center)
  • Dr. Anna Moczygemba, University College (second from right)
  • Dr. Araceli Martínez Ortiz, LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research & College of Education (not in picture)

Please continue to help us congratulate them and thank them for their tireless efforts in helping Latinos/as/x succeed in higher education. Further below, please see a sampling of their work and why these extraordinary professionals were selected as the 2017-2018 Latino Star Award recipients.

Photo also includes:

  • Ismael Amaya, Assistant Dean of Students, Dean of Students & HPN President (2017-2018) - far left
  • Jesse Silva, Assistant Director, Student Diversity and Inclusion & President-Elect (2018-2019) - far right
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  • Dr. Lis is a Spanish lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and involved in various capacities supporting students, including as advisor/coach of Chess Teams.  She presents her research internationally, recently doing so at a conference in Ecuador.  Dr. Lis was nominated by one of her Students who witnessed firsthand how far Dr. Lis goes out of her way to assist and support students.  Describing her as “an awesome professor”, the student noted the opportunities Dr. Lis provides students to interact with others and practice Spanish outside of the class through the Intercambio Spanish Language Mixers Dr. Lis hosts.  Dr. Lis went out of her way to ensure that students with special needs were welcomed at the event.  The mixers promote diversity and the practicing of Spanish and provide an opportunity to meet students (international and local) who speak Spanish.  These opportunities did not end with when class or the mixers ended – they continued via social media through a dedicated Facebook page administered by Dr. Lis.  In addition to being an educator, Dr. Lis is an advocate who goes out of her way and beyond her duty inside and outside of her classes.

  • With a legacy at Texas State extending back to her undergraduate career as the founding president of Ballet Folklorico, Dr. Rodriguez has had a long history of supporting individuals and advancing culture at Texas State. She has served on campus as an academic advisor, coordinator in the International Office and most recently as research faculty and grant coordinator of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research. She is recognized as a mentor by students at all levels (undergraduate through doctoral) as well as her peers. In her current role, Dr. Rodriguez has made significant contributions to advancing Latinos in STEM and has demonstrated intense passion and commitment to engaging in research initiatives that help advance educational outcomes for Latina/o youth. She has organized a myriad of events that aim to increase participation of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM fields in the K-12 and college level, and on utilizing these events to understand the factors that influence representation. These events have included numerous Texas State student-led demonstrations, workshops and guided engineering projects in regional K-12 schools, “meet a scientist” workshops in local community centers, tours of middle and high school students to the university to learn about opportunities for them in STEM fields, and undergraduate research open houses designed to expose students to research opportunities in and outside of the campus. Dr. Rodriguez has been able to establish close collaborations with the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and within the university that are critical to the success of our students and university. Dr. Rodriguez's contribution to research is critical as our university increases its research focus while working to maintain a diverse and inclusive community.

  • Michelle is an outstanding and exceptional administrator, advocate and mentor to students and peers. She serves a co-Advisor and co-Founder of the Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (SCOPE) which supports undocumented, immigrant and ally students at Texas State (many who identify as Latinx). She is also the creator of the In Limbo: Dilemmas and Experiences of Undocumented Students and co-founder of the DREAMer Safe Office Program.  Her impact has been phenomenal, to say the least. This includes 20 trainings to Texas State departments and various colleges and universities in Texas and beyond.  On campus, she has presented her training to over 300 faculty and staff - of which 263 have signed contracts to become Official Dreamer Allies and resulted in 15 units (departments/offices) becoming Dreamer Safe Offices.  Additionally, Michelle actively promotes the Counseling Center's Undocumented and DACAmented student support group and various on campus scholarships for which Latinx and undocumented students are eligible. Moreover, she helped to develop Student Diversity and Inclusion’s “Resources for Undocumented Students” webpage which includes information for undocumented students (i.e. scholarships, organizations, list of immigration attorneys, Dreamer Safe Office).  Michelle also supported and guided students (that included Latino students) to create a Multicultural Lounge in the Honors College. The lounge serves as a space for meeting, discussions, presentations and workshops that support and raise awareness of issues and successes of underrepresented students.  Michelle has served on the HPN Executive Board and been instrumental in the success of various HPN programs.

  • Dr. Moczygemba serves as a Student Development Specialist for Texas State’s first U.S. Department of Education Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant program, "Mentoring and Academic Coaching: Foundations for Student Success at Texas State University.”  She has supported Latino students by mentoring and guiding students towards academic success. It is not uncommon for her to take the extra time or late hours, ensuring Latino students are heard and appreciated.  She has personally purchased food she can keep in her office to assist students who are food insecure and has befriended several family members of Latino students.  She understands the importance of how familia is tied to the success of our students and frequently communicates in Spanish with them to ensure they know their child is in a welcoming and culturally supportive environment. For many years, Dr. Moczygemba served as a Director of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) demonstrating her strong foundation for serving Latino students and their families.  She is currently an advisor for Latinas Unidas (LU) and is committed to attending meetings and events that focus on Latina development and community building within the Texas State population. She takes great pride in being able to provide guidance and serve as a role model for LU women with also providing sponsorship and mentoring to help engage them in the community. She has encouraged these women to apply for campus jobs and other students engagement opportunities, to help strengthen the visibility of Latino students but more importantly to help with their own cultural awareness and professional development.  

  • Dr. Ortiz is the Executive Director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research and is an associate professor of engineering education in the College of Education.  Her nomination explains that she has elevated the opportunities for Latinx faculty, students and staff to become active in the STEM community, research and teaching.  One of her projects involves developing mathematics teachers in the Rio Grande Valley who teach English language learners.  She is a great role model and, at one point, Dr. Ortiz secured the largest grant TX ST had ever received ($15M from NASA). As a scholar, Dr. Ortiz creates opportunities for faculty across academic disciplines to engage in discipline-based education research. Furthermore, Dr. Ortiz provides Texas State students with opportunities to engage in meaningful research experiences through the different grants she manages. Education equity drives Dr. Ortiz’s work not only at Texas State but nationally and internationally, giving educators the tools needed to teach effectively in multicultural classrooms.  If you don’t know who she is but attended HPN’s Naturalization Ceremony in February, it was Dr. Ortiz who delivered the inspiring keynote address.

    • Dr. Tania Betancourt, Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
    • Ms. Angelica Maldonado Barrera, Director of PACE Advising Services
    • Dr. Emilio Carranco, Director of the Student Health Center
    • Dr. Gloria Martinez, Associate Professor of Sociology
    • Dr. Ruben Garza, Professor of Curriculum & Instruction
    • Mr. Jesse Silva, Assistant Director of Student Diversity & Inclusion
    • Dr. Margarita M. Arellano, Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
    • Dr. Jaime Chahin, Dean of the College of Applied Arts
    • Dr. Jesus (Frank) De La Teja, Director of the Center for the Study of the Southwest, J.H. and C.E. Supple Professor of Southwestern Studies & Regents’ Professor of History
    • Dr. Miriam B. Echeverria, Professor of Modern Languages
    • Dr. Ana Juarez, Associate Professor of Anthropology
    • Mr. John A. Lopez, Associate Professor of Music, Latin Music Studies Coordinator
    • Dr. Israel Najera, Supervising Counselor, Counseling Center
    • Dr. M. Alejandra Sorto, Associate Professor of Mathematics

2017-2018 Recipients

  • Dr. Susana Villanueva Eguia Lis, Modern Languages Department/College of Liberal Arts (second from left)
  • Dr. Laura Rodriguez Amaya, LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research & College of Education (left-center)
  • Ms. Michelle Monique Sotolongo Riquer, Honors College (right-center)
  • Dr. Anna Moczygemba, University College (second from right)
  • Dr. Araceli Martínez Ortiz, LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research & College of Education (not in picture)
Latinx Stars Recipients