Alumni Spotlight

February 10, 2017

After graduation Alumni set off for new journeys in every direction around the globe. This week Spanish and Portuguese Alumni Vanessa Fonseca tells us what she has been up to since graduation.

*What are you doing now/where are you?

“After graduating with a BA in Spanish and an MA in Hispanic Southwest Studies at UNM, I moved to Arizona to pursue a PhD in Spanish Cultural Studies at Arizona State University. I graduated in 2013 and worked for three years as an Assistant Professor of Latina/o Studies and English at the University of Wyoming. In fall 2016, I accepted a position at Arizona State University as an Assistant Professor of English at the Polytechnic campus. It’s really great to be back in the Southwest and to feel a little more rooted! At ASU I teach courses on the American Southwest in literature and film, Transborder Chicana/o literature, Indigenous literature, and American ethnic literature.”

*Professional highlights post-graduation

“My work has appeared in multiple books and journals including Puentes; Chicana/Latina Studies, RANLE, and Chiricú. My publications represent a wide range of interests from Mexican writer Agustín Yáñez to sheepherding narratives in Wyoming and are written in both English and Spanish.”

“I am working on a book project, looking at the multiple layers of colonial relationships in Chicana/o literature and cultural production from 1610-2009. This intrigues me a nuevomexicana who grew up experiencing some of these conflicts and found myself trying to work through ways to theorize colonization as a global phenomenon and a major Southwest regional concern.”

“My co-edited book project (with Jesús Rosales), Spanish Perspectives on Chicano Literature: Literary and Cultural Essays, will be out this fall with the Ohio State UP. This collection considers the transnational nature of Chicana/o scholarship and highlights Spanish scholars (from the U.S. and abroad) who are engaging in Chicana/o literature within their own work.”

*Research Interests/are you using your Spanish/Port degree?

"My research interests were born at UNM – looking at all the colonial questions in Chicana/o literature and cultural production."

"Levi Romero and I are co-directing a project titled, Following the Manito Trail, which looks at the New Mexican Hispanic, or Manito, diaspora from the mid 1800’s to the present through oral histories, photography, and family archives. This is a really exciting project for us and has gained quite a bit of traction since starting it about a year ago. Follow us on Facebook and check out our website ("

"On using my degree – I use all of them every day! I don’t get to teach courses in Spanish as much as I would like but Chicana/o literature is a very dynamic type of literature – with lots of opportunities to talk about bilingualism, code switching, cultural capital, etc. It’s also fun to talk about how language strategies have changed over time in Chicana/o literature."

*Pros of knowing more than one language

"In regard to language, Chicano/a and indigenous cultures always come back to the idea that language is the essence of culture."  

*Memories you would like to share about dept. or UNM.

"I never imagined I would be a professor until I was encouraged by Dra. López to apply for the MA program one day before the deadline. I recorded a language tape and before I knew it, I had set a new path before me. This is where I learned to love literature and language and to be excited about the ways that literature reflects our own lives and how it can be used as a tool for social change. I always knew I would get a PhD after completing my MA but it would not have been possible without the support from many of the profs in the Span and Port."