2000 Inductee - Maria Luisa Alaniz

2000 Inductee - Maria Luisa Alaniz


Maria Luisa Alaniz, Ph.D. is a native of Stockton. She was raised in a single parent family of all women. Her mother was a migrant farm worker; consequently she did not have an opportunity to go to school because of the migrant lifestyle. Based on her experience, she made education a priority in her household. Her daughters were taught that economic independence is necessary for survival. She did not adhere to traditional gender roles. She encouraged her daughters to read and perform well in school. She served as a role model of strength and self – sufficiency.

Maria Luisa’s older sister, Consuelo Martinez, also served as a role model. “My sister Connie entered college as a single parent. A War on Poverty teacher training program gave her the opportunity to go to school. Consuelo worked full – time and went to school full – time to complete her B.A., teaching credential, and M.A. with honors. Her tenacity and desire to become a teacher served as an inspiration.” to me states Maria Luisa.

Maria Luisa attended Monroe Elementary School, Hamilton Junior High and Edison Sr. High. She went on to San Joaquin Delta College and San Jose State University where she completed a B.A. and a M.A. After several years of work, she attended Stanford University where she completed an Ed.S. and Ph.D. degree.

Another major influence in Maria Luisa’s life is the social and political context of the 1970’s in the Central Valley. Maria Luisa participated in UFW marches and rallies. She was also active in MECHA and teatro. These experiences were seminal in developing a social and political ideology. Specifically, Maria Luisa believes that it is our social and moral responsibility to give back to the community. This belief is evident in the trajectory of her professional life.

Maria Luisa has worked a migrant education teacher and counselor. She has directed national level programs dealing with Mexican Americans and leadership. For the past ten years she has conducted research on substance abuse and violence in Mexican American communities. The objective of her research is to develop policies that will improve our communities.

Maria Luisa is currently a professor Social Science at San Jose State University. She has served as chair of her department and director of Social Science Teacher Preparation. Her mission as an educator is to train teachers to work effectively with diverse student populations. To that end, she mentors many aspiring student teachers. Her courses focus on issues related to education, race/ethnicity, class and gender.

She also contributes to community causes and organizations. For example, she served on the City of San Jose Human Rights Commission. She also served on the board of many organizations including; the Mexican American Community Service Association and California Latinos United for a Healthy California.

Maria Luisa is proud to be a product of the Central Valley, to come from a farm worker family of all women and Southside Stockton. She feels blessed to have had strong and supportive role models in her life. She also feels fortunate to have come of age in an era of social and political activism.