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CHASS Ph.D. student makes strides in her Latino studies educational journey

Daisy Herrera becomes the only UC doctoral candidate for Smithsonian’s 2022 Latino Museum Studies Program fellowship
By Alejandra Prado, Student Writer/CHASS Marketing and Communications |

An homage to her family and future generations of Latino children encapsulates Daisy Herrera’s educational journey.

A first-generation Chicana and current Ph.D. student at UC Riverside’s Department of History, Herrera is eager to move on to the next step of her path: a fellowship with the Latino Museum Studies Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino in Washington, D.C.

Daisy Herrera

“This is an amazing internship to apply for as a Latinx student interested in public history and museum work,” she said. “The practicums offered include a range of interests and research skills, which makes it a unique program and an awarding experience.”

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Herrera considers her upbringing, family background and status as a first-generation college student an important part of her identity. Not only is she attending UC Riverside for a doctoral degree, Herrera previously attended UCR during her undergraduate studies, graduating class of ‘07 in a degree in History and Women’s Studies.

Hoping to work in public history, Herrera wants to build bridges that connect communities with their history and start conversations that span generations for this material to be accessible—all while earning a Ph.D.

“I am also a mother-scholar, and I am on campus while my daughter is attending UCR’s Early Childhood Center,” Herrera said. “This journey is even more special because of her presence, and while she may be too young to comprehend what I am achieving, I take her to my graduate courses and to visit other campuses so she does not find academia intimidating.”

During Herrera’s fellowship, she will gain experience in her field by working with the Smithsonian’s curators and researchers and attend workshops that strengthen her skills through the end of this year. According to Herrera, she was also assigned her practicum of choice, “The First 100: Chicanas Changing History,” which will focus on the oral histories of the first hundred Chicanas who earned a Ph.D. in History.

“I am looking forward to learning about exhibit curation and to dive deeper into digital humanities,” Herrera said. “I will strengthen my oral history skills which entails a Chicanx bottom-top methodology that is both engaging and needed when researching the Chicanx experience in the U.S.”

“It is exciting to be able to represent a leading university in Humanities at the national level as a current graduate student and alumna,” said Herrera, who is the only UC doctoral student accepted into the program this year.

“She has a remarkable sense of social justice, an understanding of the necessity to root her inquiries in the deep past and transnational context, and genuine desire to uplift the voices of Chicanx and Latinx grassroots people,” said Dr. Catherine Gudis, Herrera’s advisor at UCR.

While broadening her knowledge and gaining experience within Latino Studies, Herrera hopes to bring inspiration to others who would like to do the same.

“My journey to a Ph.D. is not just for me and my community, but it is a homage to my Mexican parents and to the future generations of other Chicano/Latino children including my daughter,” Herrera said.

“I just love her enthusiasm, and quest to consume knowledge,” Dr. Gudis said.

FEATURED PHOTO. Daisy Herrera and her daughter, Maya Luna.