The Space Between

Student explores identity for Mexican women in STEM


photo of Norma Garza Reyes


When Norma Garza Reyes (’18 MS, Psychology) first came across the word nepantla, a term used by the Nahuatl-speaking people in Mexico that roughly translates to “in the space between,” she was reading the late works of Gloria Anzaldúa, a Latina author, artist, and cultural critic who used the word to describe her feelings of being in between American and Mexican cultures.

Garza wondered if she could apply the idea to Latina students in STEM.

“Latina students are very underrepresented in STEM fields,” she says. “I thought to apply this framework to see if there was that feeling of being in between their Mexican culture and STEM culture.”

In their paper titled “Nepantla aquí, Nepantla allá: The borderlands of identity from Mexican-origin women in STEM,” Garza and her coauthors aimed to obtain a better understanding of how Anzaldúa’s borderlands of identity applied to Mexican American women in STEM.

For their efforts, Garza and her coauthors received the Best Scholarly Paper award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education.

“I was extremely excited to win the Best Scholarly Paper award,” she says. “This was my first paper submitted to a conference, as well as my first talk at a conference, so it kind of validated the work I did.”

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Summer 2023 Magazine

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