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Who We Are

CUNY Mexican Studies InstituteThe Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute is comprised of all of the faculty, students, staff, and affiliated community-based organizations working on research, advocacy, and services related to Mexico and Mexicans in the United States. All CUNY faculty, students, and staff pursuing this kind of work and research are automatically affiliated with the Institute and considered a part of our advisory board, but we would like you to be more involved. Consider joining our Executive Board or creating a working group dedicated to a specific topic or theme. Just call (347) 577-4080 or email us at to join our mailing list and tell us your ideas.

José Higuera López, Interim Director

José Higuera LópezJosé Higuera is the Associate Director, since December 16, 2016, serving as the Interim Director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY. He was born in Tijuana, Baja California, México and immigrated to the US in 2009. Before joining the JLMSI, José Higuera was a professor of the School of Languages and of the School of Pedagogy and Educational Innovation at the Autonomous University of Baja California. In 2011, Higuera founded CCBR Preschool, Language & Arts Center in Brooklyn, where he served as Founding Director until February 2016. Previously, as Co-founder and Vice-president of the Mexican Association of Pedagogical Consultants, he developed and implemented numerous workshops on techniques and strategies to strengthen academic practices for the Baja California State Department of Education. In 2006, he was granted a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholarship at the University of Arkansas and is a member of the Fulbright Association. Since 1994, he has been actively involved in diverse social and cultural initiatives with different community based organizations like SEDEPAC/American Friends Service Committee, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Senior Center, Hogar Infantil La Gloria, SOS Children's Villages, and Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York. José Higuera is convinced that a strong academic background that fosters leadership potential and promotes mutual understanding among cultures, furthers opportunities for students that can lead to success.

Marlen Fernández, Scholarship Program Coordinator

Marlen FernándezMarlen Fernández is currently the scholarship coordinator for the CUNY BECAS Scholarship Program at Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY. This scholarship primary aids students with little or no access to financial aid. She is the founding coordinator of educational outreach at the Institute where she led programs in Brooklyn and at the Consulate General of Mexico in New York. Her family is originally from Puebla, Mexico. Not a native New Yorker, she grew up in Westchester, just outside of New York City. Marlen is currently a graduate student at Baruch College studying Higher Education Administration. She recently received the 40 under 40 Rising Stars award by the Hispanic Coalition of New York. Marlen also has experience organizing around the issues of undocumented youth, formerly the President of the Lehman Dream Team, Co-founder of the Westchester Dream Team, and former member of the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

Naoribi Collado, Administrative Coordinator

Naoribi ColladoNaoribi Collado is the Administrative Coordinator in The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY located at Herbert H. Lehman College.  Prior to working in the Mexican Studies Department, Naoribi worked in the Office of the Registrar at Lehman and also in the Financial Aid Office.  She has extensive experience working in an urban college setting with a diverse student population.  She holds a bachelor’s Degree in psychology and is currently working on her Master of Science in Education with emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. Naoribi is of Dominican decent and is the first in her family to graduate with a college degree. On the weekends Naoribi does volunteer work in a nursing home. She has a deep passion for helping others in achieving their short or long-term goals and strives every day to do as much as she possibly can for all the students she serves. Naoribi looks forward to having a long and productive career with the Mexican Studies Institute.

Yessenia Benitez, College Assistant

Yessenia BenitezYessenia Benitez was born in El Salvador. She is now attending the City College of New York where she majors in Political Science. She was awarded the CUNY Becas Scholarship from the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute (JLMSI) two years in a row. Not only is she the oldest sibling to go to college, she is also the first to do so among both sides of her family. She hopes that her younger brother and cousins get inspired by her academic accomplishments and continue to pursue their own education. College unlocked a new world for her. She is now determined to tackle any upcoming obstacles to successfully graduate, all with the support of her family and the institute. The scholarship program provided her with a variety of opportunities she otherwise would not have. Opportunities such as interning with CUNY Citizenship now! The Jaime Lucero Mexica Studies Institute at CUNY and El Centro de Recursos Educativos para Adultos where she currently volunteers.

Francisco Aquino Ramirez, College Assistant

Francisco Aquino RamirezFrancisco is a 2016-17 Becari@. He attends Lehman College, majoring in the interdisciplinary major of Anthropology Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Political Science. The oldest of five children he aims to serve as an inspiration to his siblings and others around him by lending a helping hand to his community. He is currently the vice president of The Lehman Dream Team, a student-based organization at Lehman College, working to advocate for the rights of undocumented individuals and also addressing other pressing social issues such as discrimination and gender inequality. He also provides educational guidance for adults in preparation for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exam in his internship at El Centro de Recursos Educativos para Adultos. He was born in Puebla, Mexico and raised in the Bronx. He started as an intern in the Mexican Studies Institute and will now join the team in his new role assisting with the CUNY Becas Scholarship program.

Alyshia Gálvez, Former Founding Director

Alyshia Gálvez, Former Founding DirectorAlyshia Gálvez is the Former Founding Director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute. Author of two books on Mexican immigration in New York, Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care and the Birth Weight Paradox (Rutgers University Press, Oct. 2011) and Guadalupe in New York (NYU Press, Dec. 2009), she is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of Latin American, Latino, and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College. Her second book Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers, was awarded the 2012 ALLA Book Award (Association of Latino and Latin American Anthropologists). She is currently working on a book, under contract with University of California Press about the changing food systems in the US and Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement, including the public health consequences of that process of change.


The governance structure of the Institute consists of an Executive Committee and a Director.The Executive Committee shall consist of sixteen full members. Executive Committee members shall be elected during the Institute's annual meeting (comprised of the Executive Committee and the Advisory Board). They shall serve a two-year term. Executive Committee members may be reelected. For the pilot year of the Institute only, one half of the Executive Committee will be elected for a two-year term and one half for a one-year term, thus enabling future staggering of the Executive Committee elections.

The Executive Committee shall meet at least once a semester. Additional meetings may be called by the Director of the Institute or at the written request of three Executive Committee members.

The Executive Committee shall decide all policy and program issues, including but not limited to programs, invited speakers, budgetary items, and the creation of committees to facilitate operational functions.

The Institute will also be guided by an Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will provide a forum for the discussion of the Institute's activities and mission and ensure its continued relevance to the community and its interests. The Advisory Board shall meet at least once per academic year. The Advisory Board will be comprised of:

  • members of the Executive Committee
  • members of the CUNY Working Task Force on Strengthening Educational Opportunities for Mexicans and Mexican Americans
  • affiliated faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students
  • community leaders and directors of community-based organizations whose mission is relevant to the Institute's work
  • others upon nomination and approval by the Executive Committee

Affiliated faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students: All CUNY graduate and undergraduate students and faculty whose work focuses on Mexican Studies (broadly defined) will be considered affiliates of the Institute and welcome to participate in its annual meeting and advisory board. Affiliation will be activated by participation in the advisory board.