A Fighter for NY’s Mexican Community

Alyshia Gálvez (Photo via Diario de Mexico)

Alyshia Gálvez (Photo via Diario de Mexico)

Every person who crosses the border has a dream and works day after day, with a heart full of hope and the belief that they will see their family again in a few years. Professor Alyshia Gálvez knows this well. She has worked with New York’s immigrant Mexican community for more than 12 years.

Her dedication and persistence to shed light on problems and phenomena, such as religious devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe [the national saint], led her to work towards creating the first Institute of Mexican Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY).

“When I passed through the door of the Tepeyac Association, I found a community that was willing to hold on to their customs and guadalupano spirit. Furthermore, I realized the challenges that pregnant women encounter when accessing pre and postnatal health care,” she said.

Gálvez, who has a big heart, is an anthropologist and researcher at CUNY. She is the author of two books: “Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the Struggle for Citizenship Rights among Mexican Immi­grants” (NYU Press, Dec. 2009) and “Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers: Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care, and the Birth Weight Paradox” (Rutgers Uni­versity Press, Oct. 2011).

A very sensitive soul, Gálvez wants to highlight the immigrant community’s contributions in the northeastern part of the U.S., while also condemning the disadvantages they have to cope with in various areas of daily life.

She has worked with numerous organizations and committees to support different cultural and educational projects, and initiatives that fight for the rights of immigrants and youth. In 2012, the CUNY Board of Trustees selected her to head the Institute of Mexican Studies, an entity committed to promoting Mexican culture, but also to revealing the challenges, contributions, and progress of the immigrant community in various fields.

“We want more Mexican students to attend CUNY and to promote the study [of Mexican culture], but we also want to be a center for research and support for youth, and anyone who wants to know more about Mexican communities,” said Gálvez.

Thanks to her dedication day after day, immigrant Mexican youth can turn to this research center to learn about their country’s history, as well as the challenges Mexicans face when they arrive in the U.S.

Gálvez said she is grateful to everyone [she has worked with] for supporting her altruistic efforts, which she started more than 12 years ago when she began to build a long and productive friendship with the thousands of people who struggle to achieve the American dream.

“Looking back, I think I’ve passed the test. Today I can say that my emotional ties with [the] people [I study] are very strong,” she said.

She also hasn’t forgotten Morris, the famous deceased pit bull who lived at the Tepeyac Association for a number of years. “Morris greeted me when I went there with my kids. One of them was in the stroller, and Morris went right up to him and covered him with kisses,” she said.

Gálvez is an angel for many people; she lets them know they are not alone, and that distance is not an obstacle to achieving their dreams.

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