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Professional Staff

Rosa Isela CervantesView

Director & Special Advisor to the President on Latino Affairs


I received my Master’s Degree in Family Studies and Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Spanish from the University of New Mexico and am a product of El Centro de la Raza. Over the course of my time at UNM I have been a part of and seen El Centro change its name, grow from a very small staff to the one it boasts today, struggle through and survive funding issues, overcome racial and hostile attacks and most of all make a difference in many students' lives, including mine. At UNM I have served in various leadership positions in state and national associations, I was the former Program Operations Director of the Outreach Initiatives for UNM’s College Enrichment and Outreach Programs (CEOP) where I served first generation, low income students and students from migrant and seasonal farm-working backgrounds. I coordinated College Prep Programs and serve as Principal Investigator for the Upward Bound Program, the Educational Opportunity Center and the High School Equivalency Program. Furthermore, I am privileged to teach in Family studies and continue to provide support to students in this manner. I am the oldest of six raised by a very strong Mexican father and a resilient New Mexican mother who together infused values of education, community, faith, family and cultura into my life.


Jorge A. Garcia Atilano

Senior Program Manager

gI was born and raised in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I grew up in Chicago, and I moved to New Mexico in 1997.  I obtained an undergraduate degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Chicano Studies and Latin American Studies. I earned a Master’s degree in Education (Language, Literacy and Socio Cultural Studies). As part of my studies I developed a social paradigm for strategic alliances that incorporate the four forces that affect our --social, cultural, economic, and political forces.  This paradigm I call the Quadruple Helix (4H) for strategic alliances. I also earned an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the Anderson School of Management at UNM. Much of the work I do is strictly focused on supporting young students to conduct applied research under the auspices of social entrepreneurship as the basis for leadership development. My research and entrepreneurial activities are focused on creating initiatives and projects that support the social, cultural, political and economic development of local and indigenous communities. I co-founded La Plazita Institute in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have served as the Vice President of the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias in the town of Atrisco. I am the co-founder and President of the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS), a community based research and learning center located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. As part of the work I do, I am directly associated with many other local and international communities that are working toward the development of sustainable systems, including international efforts to safeguard Traditional Knowledge associated to Biodiversity and the restitution of indigenous calendars.


Noemi Gutierrez

Supervisor, Admin. Support 

nI was born in Farmington, NM and raised in Albuquerque, NM, however, my family is from Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, I take a lot of pride in my roots (familia), background and culture and I feel that has developed me to be the individual I am today. A hobby and passion I enjoy is being a cosmetologist, I do that on my days off and whenever I can fit it in my busy schedule. I offer more than 12 years’ experience working with different organizations in the areas of human resources, finance, and operations management. One thing I’ve learned over the years regardless of the type of work I have done is that being a mentor to others is one of the greatest feelings of satisfaction I can have and I feel that is one of many valuable things that I can bring to the table to all the students, staff, and community members we serve at El Centro. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of El Centro and serve the community! Aquí estoy a sus órdenes para servirle.

In progress – Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in International Management in Latin America


Armando Bustamante

Student Programs Specialist 

aBachelor of Science in Secondary Education & Social Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

I was raised in North Central Nebraska, but my family is from Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, after high school graduation I moved to Lincoln Nebraska where I got mydegree for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have been working with students since 1995 with TRIO Programs at UNL and Title V at UNM. I truly enjoy working with others especially with students. I will be the contact person with El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos and Somos Un Pueblo Unido amongst other community and campus organizations.


Alejandro Mendiaz-Rivera

Student Programs Specialist 

aBachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and Spanish

No soy de aquí ni de allá, I was born in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico and was raised in New Mexico, the state I call home. I started out my undergraduate career at UNM and quickly became involved with El Centro de la Raza. Being a DREAMer presented different obstacles for me but El Centro was always there to help me through them. El Centro also helped me discover a passion for working with students in the higher education system. It had been my dream to one day work here as a staff member and now I am happily living this dream!


Yudith Yesenia Ruiz

Student Programs Specialist 

Master of Arts in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies


Hola, mi nombre es Yudith Yesenia Ruiz. I was born in Zacatecas, Mexico but raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As an undergraduate student, El Centro de La Raza and their staff became my second home and family. Its members became my close friends and supporters through my academic journey. Thanks to El Centro, I overcame my insecurities and self-doubts as a Latina, first generation college student. I found validation through the people I met, by sharing our stories and connecting through a common struggle, the struggle of overcoming stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice.

I am proud to say that I will be receiving a Master of Arts in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies, with a concentration in Education Thought and Sociocultural Studies. I will also be receiving the Race and Social Justice Certification, with the hopes of strengthening my skills in dealing with social justice issues and the empowerment of students of color. This achievement means a great to deal to me, because this allows me to raise awareness and advocacy to social injustice among marginalized students.

It is a great honor to be part of El Centro de La Raza family. I wish to give back much of what they have given to me. I hope to validate and empower students so that they can recognize that their struggle is unique. I want to foster their courage to speak from their experiences and refuse to be silenced.