A pioneer for Mexican-American Studies


Rosalia Solorzano was honored with emeritus status on Feb. 6 at the district District Office. 

Solorzano is the 37th faculty member to receive this honor at Pima Community College. Distinguished individuals who have retired are nominated by former colleagues and faculty members confidentially. 

The faculty emeritus award is the most important award to be given at Pima Community College and recognizes faculty and their contributions and services to the college.   

“I’m very proud and very honored to have received the faculty emerita award,” Solorzano said. 

  She has been a instructor for 40 years and has taught thousands of students at Pima. She retired as a Pima sociology instructor after 21 years. 

During Solorzano’s teaching career, she also has been a researcher, scholar and activist for Mexican-American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and Border Studies. 

Solorzano has established and contributed to a variety of programs and the development of departments. This includes co-founding the Ethnic, Gender, Transborder Studies and Sociology Department. Ethnic, Gender, and Transborder Studies is the first one to be established in Arizona schools. 

She also co-founded the statewide Ethnic Studies Articulation Task Force, establishing close partnerships with University of Arizona’s’s department of Mexican-American Studies and the department of Gender and Women’s Studies. The UA is one out of nine universities in the nation to offer a doctorate degree in Mexican studies. 

Solorzano also organized the annual “Dia de los Muertos” student altar exhibit at the Downtown Campus.

“Throughout her career, Rosalia was a tireless advocate of education and social justice for all students and the community,” said Dr. Fransica James Hernandez, social sciences instructor at Pima.           

Solorzano and Hernandez have co-conducted two annual events, a summit and the Raquel Rubio Goldsmith Lecture for the Ethnic, Gender and Transborder Studies within the past four years. They’re responsible for setting the bar high for establishing the Centers of Excellence and help map out the template for the future of the Centers of Excellence. 

Recently, Solorzano and Hernandez conducted a summit on forging new relationships. They manage to bring communities and local stakeholders to participate in the successful event. 

Solorzano also wants to express her gratitude to Pima Chancellor Lee Lambert and praised his dedication for inclusion, diversity and equity. 

Solorzano recognizes that the work for Mexican-American Studies isn’t over yet and it’s continuing to thrive and progress at Pima. 

Diversity studies show significant benefits for students regardless of their identify, background and heritage, but it especially helps students who are marginalized. Solorzano wants success for students whose voices aren’t heard, such as struggling DACA students, refugee students and students that don’t recognize their strength for academic discipline and higher education because of their ethnic background. 

“The faculty emerita is the most important rationale of my work for decades, of my consistent of ideological vision on the betterment of the communities and education has been the students,” she said. “I am who I am because of my students and the community.” 

Solorzano has helped contribute to many students’ success as well as fellow faculty in her department. 

“Rosalia is an outstanding professor and mentor,” said Yolanda Gonzales Program Coordinator for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “She has made significant contributions to PCC, students and the community. 

“Rosalia has been a strong and positive role model who always believed in me and invigorated my desire to establish visibility and role mentoring for women empowerment and leaderships.” 

  The department of Mexican-American Studies has the autonomy to control the courses, so the studies will not be cross-listed with history. History has different goals and objectives from Mexican-American Studies. 

On Feb. 6, the provost provided for an instructor position doing anthropology and Mexican-American Studies to give the program more visibility after 50 years at Pima. It’s the first time the administration has given part time appointment to this department. 

The department has hired two full time and 11 adjunct faculty members for the Ethnic, Genders, Transborder Studies/Sociology. The department has granted scholarships for students and recruitment. 

 Solorzano said that majoring in MAS allows you to work in different sectors to the government to education. She said that it’s carrying the voice as scholars, practitioners, activists and educators. A voice for a community with rich cultural history that has enough of exclusion.

 “We have been invisible as a field for many years,” Solorzano said. “The academic field is a result of resistance and struggles of the ’60s and ’70s, a community that came together and  said ¡Basta! and no more invisibility, 

“We are very hard-working individuals. We are part of the economic, social, cultural and educational structure. We want more presence; we do not want to be erased.” 


Photo courtesy Rosalia Solorzano.
Rosalia Solorzano stands with her Faculty Emeritus certificate.

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