About the Speakers
Denise Meda Calderon
PhD Student at Texas A&M
Associate Proffesor at UTEP
Lecture Series #1:
Denise Meda Calderon
Denise is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy at Texas A&M
University. Her work engages philosophical traditions such as Latina/x feminisms, Mexican
philosophy, Social and Political philosophy, and Epistemology to explore issues related to Latinx
experiences within and across borders. Now in her fourth year, Denise’s research is focused on
coloniality, death, and community practices of resistance.
Denise is also a contributing member to the Inter-American Journal of Philosophy and a research
assistant to Dr. Sonia Hernandez and Dr.Nancy Plankey-Videla on “The Mexican Re-Integration
Project,” which is a transnational Texas A&M collaborative investigation with the Texas A&M
University School of Law.
Before moving to Texas, Denise lived in Los Angeles, CA where she worked as an instructor at
Mount St. Mary’s University and Cal State University Fullerton. Alongside her university work,
Denise coached high school basketball and mentored first generation Latinx students preparing
for university educations.
Roberto Avant-Mier is a Latinx/Chicano/a Scholar, who looks at the discursive construction of
Latino/Hispanic identity(ies) and cultural issues in popular music and film.
Prof. Avant-Mier is the co-author of the NEW BOOK Cine-Mexicans: An Introduction to
Chicano Cinema (2018, Kendall Hunt), which is based on several years of teaching classes on
cinema and film, and analyzing the image(s) of Mexicans in U.S./Hollywood movies & films
[co-authored with Michael Lechuga]. Dr. Avant-Mier is also the author of Rock the Nation:
Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora (2010, Continuum/Bloomsbury), which was
based on several years of research on Latino/Hispanic identity constructions and rock music as a
He is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Communication at UTEP and is also
affiliated faculty in Chicano/a Studies. Prior to returning to Texas-El Paso in 2010, he was a
professor at Boston College, and he previously attended the University of Utah, UTEP, and the
University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Prior to his academic career, Roberto Avant-Mier served in the U.S. Marines as a
linguist/translator, “radio man,” recon marine, and parachutist, and he was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant in 1994. In addition to his university career, he has taught Spanish to English-speaking children in Utah, and taught English to Spanish-speaking adults in West Texas.
Executive Director at Spare Parts
Fredrick Luis Aldama
LASER Director & Distinguished Professor
Lecture Series #2:
As a child, Mary Elizabeth Cantu dreamt of being Indiana Jones. Cantu is a native San Antonian and has worked in the fields of arts, education and culture in San Antonio for over 15 years. She earned her BA in Museum Education with a focus on Cultural Anthropology and Elementary Education from Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) then received a MA in Art Education with a focus on Community-Based Art from the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 she became a national Reuse Institute Master Reuser—the first in San Antonio and in 2016 Cantu received St. Mary’s University’s Art of Peace Award.
Community engagement, art, education and green living have always been important to Cantu. All of these values amalgamated when she founded Spare Parts, a project dedicated to: cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; and community, education and creativity, green-style. Its main objective is to connect with various agencies and businesses to provide a steady supply of materials, which would otherwise be thrown away, for the artistic community and educators to increase the creative and cultural energy of San Antonio. Her vision is to transform Spare Parts from a volunteer effort to a full-time organization.
Cantu also co-founded the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM with Gabriela Santiago in 2013 to bring the fine arts museum experience to schools and the community.
Fredrick Luis Aldama
Frederick Luis Aldama is a Distinguished University Professor, Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar, and Alumni Distinguished Teacher at the Ohio State University. He is the 2019 recipient of the Rodica C. Botoman Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring and the Susan M. Hartmann Mentoring and Leadership Award. He is the award-winning author, co-author and editor of 40 books. In 2018, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics won the International Latino Book Award and the Eisner Award for Best Scholarly Work. He is editor and coeditor of 8 academic press book series as well as editor of Latinographix, a trade-press series that publishes Latinx graphic fiction and nonfiction. He is creator of the first documentary on the history of Latinx superheroes in comics (Amazon Prime) and co-founder and director of SÕL-CON: Brown & Black Comix Expo.
He is founder and director of the Obama White House award-winning LASER: Latinx Space for Enrichment & Research, as well as founder and co-director of the Humanities & Cognitive Sciences High School Summer Institute. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese as well as faculty affiliation in the Department of Film Studies and the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. His children’s book, The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie will be published in June, 2020.
Lead Editor NFL
Media Producer, Film Maker, Musician
Lecture Series #3:
Making Moves In Media
Josh Lightner is the Lead Editor for the NFL Social Lab in Los Angeles, California. He holds a BA from the University of the Incarnate Word in Communication Arts. Josh will be providing insight into his career path from working at the athletic department at the University of Texas at San Antonio to joining the media team at the National Football League. He will also be fielding questions and comments at the end of the talk.
Terry Bluez is a media producer, musician, podcaster, and filmmaker based out of Waco, Texas. He holds an MFA in Filmmaking from UT Arlington and is a former Professor of the Practice at Baylor University. Terry is also a community organizer and facilitator. He will be sharing his media journey and his current initiatives with the audience.