I became a Berkeley graduate student at a time when the sociology department was admitting large groups of students at a time. Many of us found the place bewilderingly impersonal, super competitive, and alienating. But stick it out most of did, and in my case, an important reason was the support provided by a large cohort of Chicano and Chicana graduate students on campus from different disciplines. Still, for a working-class Chicano it was a great opportunity just being at Berkeley studying sociology full-time, learning so much from the Duster, Glock, Kornhauser, Blauner, Fischer, and Selznick seminars.
I went to Berkeley knowing I would focus on Mexican Americans, although I had no idea what kind of sociologist I would become. One time I wrote a paper on a historical topic, and that set me on a path toward historical sociology of a sort. It's been rewarding, thus far authoring one book, co-authoring another, doing the articles.
In 1987, a year after finishing my dissertation, I was appointed assistant professor in sociology at the University of New Mexico where I have been ever since and where I teach in the race-ethnic track and a course called the Sociology of Mexican Americans. For the last seven of the years I was also director of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute. In collaboration with many colleagues from throughout the university, the work of the Institute involved quite varied administrative and research activities. I am most proud of the research which produced not only academics, but assisted the current-day heirs of the old Spanish and Mexican community land grants in their efforts to gain political recognition and resources so as to realize to the extent possible their own cultural and economic sustainability in New Mexico.