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J. Estrella Torrez

Associate Professor; Graduate Faculty
Email: torrezjs@msu.edu

Research Areas

Community Literacy, Critical Pedagogy, Indigenous Rhetorics, Latina Rhetorics


Dr. Estrella Torrez is an Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Her research centers on language politics and the importance of community-based knowledge, particularly among rural Latino families and urban Indigenous youth. Dr. Torrez is a Gates Millennium Scholar, being awarded the prestigious award during its inaugural year. Torrez has degrees from The University of New Mexico (PhD, Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies, concentration in Bilingual Education; MA, dual concentrations in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and Bilingual Education) and Western Michigan University (BS, Elementary Education). She has also studied at The University of Detroit-Mercy and Universidad Nahuatl in Mexico. As a child, Torrez attended schools for migrant children until, at the age of twelve, she began working alongside her family in the fields. Later, she taught within the migrant educational system, eventually working briefly for the Office of Migrant Education in Washington, DC. In 2009, Torrez co-founded the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program (IYEP), a program serving urban Native youth in Michigan. She presently serves as IYEPs co-director. From 2011-2013, served as a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Detroit Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Representative Work

Torrez, J. (2013). Somos mexicanos y hablamos mexicano aqui: Rural farmworker families’ struggles to maintain cultural and linguistic identity in Michigan. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12(4), 277-294.

Torrez, J. (in press). Construyendo comunidad: Building a bicultural and bilingual framework for community engagement. In O. Delano-Oriaran, M. Parks and S, Fondrie, (Eds.) Service-learning and Civic Engagement: A Sourcebook. London: SAGE Publications, Inc

Torrez, J. (2013). Sobreviviendo in the academy: The counter-consejos of my tías. In. M. Castañeda and K. Isgro, (Ed.) B(e)aring Witness to Our Lives as Mothers in Academia (pp. 123-136). NY, NY: Columbia University Press.

Torrez, J. (2013, Fall). Engaging literacies: Civic engagement and storytelling with Latino youth. Invited speaker, National Council of Teachers of English speaker series, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

Torrez, J. (Summer, 2013). Consejos de las Comadres: Migrant mother practices of resistance in the educational system, Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement Conference, Toronto, Ontario Canada