Personal profile


A proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, María Luisa Ruiz, received her teaching credential from San José State and an MA and PhD in Spanish and Humanities from Stanford University. She is a Full Professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Saint Mary’s College of California where she teaches in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Program. She is serving as interim Senior Diversity officer for Saint Mary's College (2023-present).
She is also director of the Institute for Latino and Latin American Studies and Global and Regional Studies.  She is also faculty advisory board member for the Women’s and Gender Studies. In 2011 she received the Brother Manuel Vega Latino Empowerment Award and the Saint Mary’s College Faculty Service Award in 2018. In 2021, she was selected for a Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program to Mexico. She participated in the summer program called The Third Root: Exploring African Heritage in Mexico. She is the recipient of the 2024 Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award presented to a member of the faculty or staff who has, over a period of years, demonstrated a personal commitment to the students of Saint Mary's College above and beyond their employee responsibilities.   
Dr. Ruiz has presented her work on representations of Mexican women in the world of the drug trade at countless conferences and workshops. Her work has been described by others as innovative, original, and foundational.  She was awarded a Provost Research Grant in 2020 in support on of her work on melodrama, gender and narconarratives.In 2023, her article “Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears a Crown: Narcoqueens, Beauty Queens, and Melodrama in Narconarratives” published in the Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies (MARLAS) was awarded the James Street Prize for the best article published in the MARLAS journal. She is currently working on a book on this topic with Lexington Press.

Contact Information

Office: Dante Hall 306
Phone: 925-631-4568
Mail: P.O. Box 4730

Related documents

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D. Spanish and Humanities, Stanford University

… → 2005

M.A. Spanish, Stanford University

… → 2000

Single Subject Teaching Credential Spanish, San Jose State University

… → 1998

External positions

Graduate Writing Assistant, Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities, Stanford University

Jan 1 2002Jan 1 2003

Teaching Fellowship, University of California, Irvine

Research Interests

  • Contemporary Mexican Literature
  • Mexican Popular Culture of the 1940’s and present
  • intersections between U.S and Latin American Feminist Studies
  • Film studies
  • Sociolinguistics with a focus on Heritage Language pedagogy


  • Women's Studies