I arrived at Berkeley in 1979 anxious and eager to become a sociologist. However, the department was not quite prepared for a dark-skinned Chicana raised by working class parents. There were no safe spaces for my language, values, experiences, or transformations. Working with Michael Burawoy, Arlie Hochschild, Bob Blauner, Tomas Almaguer, Troy Duster and a core group of Chicanas in the department provided me with valuable skills, as I experienced unpredictable states of self-doubt and confidence, to negotiate a relatively safe space to develop critical race and gender perspectives on Chicana feminism and older Mexican women.
After graduating, I received a post-doctoral fellowship in medical sociology at UCSF then I was off to Boulder, where I joined the sociology faculty at the University of Colorado. However, I moved tot he Department of Ethnic Studies where critical studies of anti-racist discourse and Chicana feminisms were welcomed. During my transition, I completed my first book Understanding Older Chicanas (SAGE, 1996). My teaching, research, and activism continue to focus on age and aging in the Chicana community. Being a student of Berkeley sociology, the commitment to social change or desalinization, lead me to Cuba where I've conducted research on Women and the Revolution during the last several years. I'm currently completing my second book on Cuban sex workers.
Despite the alienation experienced at Berkeley, I developed an identity as a Chicana sociologist, not a sociologist who happens to be Chicana. I have taken skills and values learned at Berkeley into interdisciplinary areas of research, teaching, and community activism in the Denver/Boulder area.