Professor Alejandro Enriquez has been part of the Latin American and Latino/a studies program since he began his teaching career at Illinois State University, offering courses in Spanish on Latin American literary and cultural history. Starting in Fall 2018, Enriquez will officially be affiliated faculty in the Latin American and Latino Studies program, offering two courses a year on Latino studies as part of his regular teaching assignment in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

We are honored to have him on board and as our LALS faculty spotlight for Spring 2018. To know more about his experiences and why he recommends the LALS minor to students, check out what he has to say in an interview with LALS! 

On background

“The son of a Mexican father and an American mother, I was born and raised in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. While in Mexico, I was fascinated with learning as much as I could about my mother’s culture and nation of origin: I learned English by taking classes, reading as much as I could get my hands on, and using the language at every opportunity, including during summer visits to relatives in Cleveland, Ohio. I moved to the US in 1996.”

On education

“After completing coursework for a BA in Business Administration in Mexico, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I fell in love with the humanities. I completed a BA in Spanish and Portuguese Studies, an MA in Hispanic Literatures, and a Ph.D. in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.”

On current Illinois State position and civic engagements

“My first appointment was in 2011, I am currently an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and, as of the spring of 2018, I hold a joint appointment in the Latin American and Latino Studies program. I hold the position of Spanish Section coordinator, among other university-wide committees, including the Academic Senate, where I serve as a Faculty Senator.”

On work with students

“In the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, I have the opportunity to teach advanced language courses as well as Latin American literature and culture courses for Spanish majors and graduate students. Beginning in the Fall of 2018, I will be offering two courses per year taught in English for the Latino Studies Program. For example, in the Fall semester, I will teach ENG 267 Foundations of U.S. Latino/a Literature and Culture. The class will be taught in English and cover themes, historical events, and figures significant in U.S. Latinx literatures and cultures.”

On research interests 

“My research focuses on the life, work, and writing of Spanish Franciscan missionaries who came to the Americas beginning in the 16th century to convert the Indigenous peoples to Christianity. I have published scholarly articles in journals such as the Colonial Latin American Review, Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, and the Journal of Iberian Medieval Studies. I am currently completing a book manuscript titled Friar-Conquistadors: the Franciscan Spiritual Conquest of Colonial Yucatan.”

On students considering the LALS minor

“I encourage not only my own but all Illinois State students to pursue an interdisciplinary minor to study a particular topic through different disciplinary perspectives. I would particularly encourage students to pursue the Latin American and Latino Studies minor because it is an excellent choice for any student who wants to broaden his or her understanding of the diversity and complexity of Latin America and U.S. Latino culture, the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. It is a natural fit for Spanish majors and minors so that they can deepen their knowledge through courses in the history, geography, sociology, anthropology (etc.) of Latin American and Latinx societies.”

For more information about the minor, please contact Acting Director Juliet Lynd or adviser Janet Claus or see our website at You can apply for the minor directly from your page.