Alicia Garza has received the Martha A. Torrez Humanitarian Award from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Garza is a professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages.
“The reason Dr. Garza was named this year’s winner is because our community sees the same qualities in Dr. Garza as we saw in Martha Torrez. Dr. Garza is seen as a mentor to so many people on and off campus,” said Juan J. Saldaña, community resource development specialist at the commission.
Torrez, who died in 2011 and attended Boise State, was a vocational counselor for the Idaho Industrial Commission.
“She was known for being a resource for people all over in Idaho. She helped in a variety of issues from helping people find homes, helping parents find resources for their children, helping parents register their kids in school, etc.,” said Saldaña. “If there was an issue, people knew they could turn to her and she would guide them on the right path.”
Garza said she was honored, and surprised to receive the award.
“I did not know Martha Torrez personally, but I certainly knew about her efforts and I admired them,” said Garza.
Garza also praised the commission for its staff, its board of directors, its advocacy of LatinX issues, and for hosting an annual youth summit at Boise State that encourages LatinX students to continue their studies beyond high school.
Garza received her master’s degree and doctorate in Hispanic American literature at the University of Arizona. She has been at Boise State for 24 years, where she founded Casita Nepantla, a space devoted to LatinX life and culture, in the Student Union Building. Her research and teaching centers on Chicana feminist theory, popular culture, gender and sexuality, and the body in Chicana literature. In 2003, she was the recipient of the the Carnegie Idaho Professor of the Year Award. Garza has also received the Associated Students of Boise State University Faculty Recognition Award and the College of Arts Distinguished Teaching Award. She is special advisor to Boise State President Marlene Tromp.
Earlier this year, Garza received the Esto Perpetua Award from the Idaho State Historical Society.
The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs will host Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). The festivities will begin with a celebration at the Idaho State Capitol where Gov. Brad Little will present Garza with the award.
– By Anna Webb