SMC Announces ILaLS Student Award Named for State Senator María Elena Durazo ’75

State Senator María Elena DurazoSaint Mary’s Institute for Latin American and Latino Studies (ILaLS) is pleased to announce a new scholarship initiative from the Miguel Contreras Foundation called The Honorable Senator María Elena Durazo Scholarship for Social Justice and Equity. ILaLS promotes intellectual inquiry and collaborative efforts to raise awareness about issues relevant to Latin America and the U.S. Latino/a populations at SMC and its surrounding communities. 

“María Elena Durazo is one of our most amazing alumnae, and she has really made it a point to support the College, ILaLS, and Latinx and other students of color on campus,” said ILaLS Director Professor María Luisa Ruiz. 

“I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of the Durazo foundation and happy that ILaLS was selected to give out the awards,” added Ruiz. “It was a wonderful feeling to recognize the deep commitment to social justice on the part of the students with a monetary award. It speaks to the ways the institute’s work and mission is getting out there, and to the ways that individuals and foundations are inspired to donate to an organization that is deeply invested in supporting Latinx and first-gen students.”

The recipients of the award are: Maleena Guido ’21 (Justice, Community and Leadership, Religious Studies); Daniella Kreher ’21 (Justice, Community and Leadership); Annaliese Martinez ’21 (English and Ethnic Studies); and Galilea Silva ’21 (SaLAS and Ethnic Studies).

“I feel truly privileged to be named a recipient of the Honorable Senator María Elena Durazo Scholarship for Social Justice and Equity Award,” said Martinez, a senior who works in SMC’s Intercultural Center. “This award not only means a lot to me as I plan to further my education after graduating, but it is an honor being recognized in Senator María Elena Durazo’s name. As a Latina woman who is also from California’s agricultural Central Valley, I know it wouldn’t be possible to receive this award or even attend Saint Mary’s if it weren’t for the efforts of Senator Durazo, who paved the way for future generations of Latinx students. I’m incredibly grateful for the members of the ILaLS who nominated me for the award, as well as the staff and faculty who continuously support me, and I’m proud to be among a group of students who make Saint Mary’s such a welcoming community.”

Last year, Durazo told an SMC audience that her years at Saint Mary’s opened her eyes to the world around her and helped her not only discover her values, but learn how to act on them.  “This experience for me as a student…helped to reinforce what my religious beliefs were to my beliefs that all people should have a right to education, my beliefs that all people should have a right to healthcare.” 

Members of the ILaLS board selected the recipients from a strong group of nominees, all of whom have worked tirelessly for equity and social justice. Recipients received a monetary award and participated in a virtual ceremony, at which Durazo spoke of her late husband, Contreras, and his legacy.

“It is so exciting to have this award from our illustrious alumna, and to see that so many Latinas are following in her footsteps,” said Ruiz.

Durazo was one of the first speakers that ILaLS brought to campus. You can watch a short video of her here