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Join the Re-airing of this exciting Alumni Panel!


Watch Party: HOCO Panel “Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating the Voices of Our Fellow Bobcats”, Re-airing of a panel featuring Latino/Latina/LatinE/Latin X alumni


On Wednesday, October 5, 2022, during Homecoming 2022 Week, the Office of Global Affairs, Center for International Studies and Ohio University Alumni Association hosted this Zoom event, “Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating the Voices of Our Fellow Bobcats.” 


A panel of Latino/Latina/LatinE/Latin X and Hispanic alumni will discuss how their time at Ohio University has helped to prepare them for their experiences beyond college and higher education.


Livestream Link for the Watch Party :




Emilia Alonso-Marks

Emilia Alonso-Marks is professor of Spanish language and linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages at Ohio University. She earned her doctorate in Applied Linguistics from the Universidad de Sevilla, Spain. She is affiliated faculty in the Latin American Studies Program and advises a number of students from Modern Languages, Latin American Studies and the College of Education. In addition, she is the academic advisor of the Graduate Exchange Program with Universidad de Sevilla, and coordinates the Cultural Ambassadors Program thorough the Embassy of Spain. Since April 2013, she directs the Institute for the Empirical Study of Language. Her research focuses on language understanding, learning and use in bilingual Spanish-English speakers, heritage language speakers and native Spanish users. Her recent work has appeared in Applied English Linguistic Studies (ELIA) Journal (2020), Porta Linguarum (2018) and Enciclopedia de lingüística hispánica, edited by Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach (2016).


Rosa Aviña Zuñiga

Rosa Aviña Zuñiga graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor's in marketing and minors in business analytics and Spanish. She is currently working as the Bilingual Communication Manager for Acts Housing, a non-profit that empowers black and brown families through homeownership. She is currently a Board member of the Cutler Scholars Advisory Board (former James E. Daley Cutler Scholar) at Ohio University and the founding Board President of the Latinx Alumni Association at Ohio University. Also an heramana of Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc., Eta Chapter at Ohio University.

Melissa Cardenas

Melissa Cardenas, '96, '03, is a proud two-time graduate of Ohio University. Melissa served on the Ohio University National Alumni Board and the Diversity Alumni Board. She is former National President of Alpha Psi Lambda National Co-ed Latino-Interest Fraternity and was founder of the chapter at Ohio University. She previously worked for the Ohio University Office of Admissions, The Ohio Department of Higher Education and now works at Bowling Green State University.

Mario Grijalva

Mario Grijalva is an internationally recognized expert on the spread of infectious disease and is perhaps the world’s premier expert on Chagas disease, which affects millions of people in South and Central America and has recently spread to the United States. He is the Director, Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute and Professor of Microbiology at Ohio University. Chagas has been rife for decades in Dr. Grijalva’s native country of Ecuador, where he pursues an ongoing campaign to prevent the spread of the potentially lethal disease, carried by triatomine insects or “kissing bugs.” With support from agencies including the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Pan American Health Organization, and the European Union’s Chagas Disease Epidemiological Network, Dr. Grijalva has studied the mechanisms by which Chagas spreads and how to control it. He has also put his research findings to practical use in public health programs to prevent its transmission.

Since 2000, he has spearheaded an ongoing partnership between OHIO and his undergraduate alma mater, the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE). In June 2016, he visited Ecuador with a delegation from Ohio University for the opening of PUCE’s Center for Research in Health in Latin America (CISeAL), which Dr. Grijalva also directs.

The 100,000-square-foot center, one of the most advanced research facilities in Latin America, provides opportunities and resources for faculty and students from both universities to collaborate in studying the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of Chagas and other diseases.

Enrique Hermosilla

Enrique Hermosilla holds a MA degree in International Studies, in the area of Latin American and a second MEd in Higher Education. Currently he holds the position of Residential Living Coordinator Student Development at Indiana University, and previously he worked at his alma mater, Ohio University, for almost 13 years. While in graduate school, he was elected president of the Organization of Latino America (OLA) and promoted some discussion about politics and issues regarding US Latin American Relations. Enrique’s biggest accomplishment, according to him, is twofold, 1) his daughter MariaPaz and his son Chris hold degrees from Ohio University and 2) he worked with underprivileged academic students in helping them to get back to good standing and eventually graduate with an OHIO degree. Today, he is hoping that a third-generation family member would enroll at OHIO in about 18 to 19 years!

MariaPaz Hermosilla

MariaPaz Hermosilla holds a degree in Industrial Technology from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, a Spanish degree from the College of Arts & Sciences, and a Master’s in Business Administration from the College of Business at Ohio University. A second-generation OHIO alumni, she is currently a member of the Academic Technology team as a Learning Systems Analyst III at the Office of Information Technology and has been involved in several projects pursuing to enhance the student experience and customer-focused IT solutions for the Ohio University community. She has collaborated with other business units to improve student retention through the reduction of cost material initiatives, accessibility services, and supporting the MyOhio Success Network team and efforts.

While in the private sector, MariaPaz served as a project manager responsible for managing improvement projects implementing technology tools to enhance business processes, compliance with state and federal mandates, and employment retention through training programs.

Alisha Rojas Harrison
Alisha Rojas Harrison

Alisha Rojas Harrison, '03, has lived and educational experience with trauma and resilience. A Youth Development Professional at heart, her vision is to create healing communities through advocacy, education, and empowerment. She is the Founder of Luminary Productions LLC, providing access to trauma informed training for community leaders, educators, and adolescents. Alisha also founded Helen’s House, in honor of her grandmother, to specifically address the youth mental health crisis. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband of 20 years, their two boys, and their psychiatric support animal Jarvis.

Ivan Velez

In 2012 and 2013, Ivan was awarded the Latino Heritage Achievement Award at Ohio University’s Leadership gala. Since graduating from the Ohio University with a Bachelor of Communication Science in 2014 from the Scripps College of Communication and a Diversity Studies Certificate from the Patton College of Education, Ivan Velez has been working to create an environment conducive for student development and academic prowess for scholars in the Greater Cleveland area. He is currently working as a Teacher and Success Coach for North Shore High School while working to earn a MBA in Executive Management & Human Resource Management at Ashland University. He specializes in college access and career coordination, mathematics, organizational communication, and public advocacy. This Cleveland native has dedicated his time, talent, and treasure helping scholars as they embark on their post-secondary journey.

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