By Belle Vang, COSS Communications Student Assistant

Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez, Women’s Studies Associate Professor identifies herself as a Chicana. She is a fourth-generation Tejana (a Texan of Hispanic descent) on her maternal side and her father is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.

She says most of the traditions in her household revolve around food especially during Christmas time but throughout the year she ensures to instill in her children and students the importance and necessity of celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Dr. Mercado-Lopez believes it can be done by addressing the difficult conversations around identity, racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-immigrant ideologies.  She emphasizes how these issues affect those outside and within Latinx communities.

“It’s important because it sanctions space, time and resources for having ‘pláticas’ (talks) and community-building programming around histories and identities that continue to be marginalized in educational curriculum and communities.”

Through her powerful perspective, Dr. Mercado-Lopez educates her students and children on the difficult topics that are avoided in curriculum, such as colonialism.  She notes that the community has continued to sustain the richness of the Hispanic heritage through love and resistance, despite the current political climate.

Mercado-Lopez shares the richness of her heritage with her children through the traditions of food and “Folklorico” dancing.  She proudly shares that her two oldest daughters have danced for nearly ten years and have performed for celebrations such as the Chicanx & Latinx Graduation Celebration at Fresno State.

She goes by “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” (“Voyager, there is no path, one makes it as they walk”) by Spanish Poet Antonio Machado,

“Our paths are not wrong.  While we might be told in life that there is just one path to get to where we want to be, there are many other ways to get there.”