- Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, Executive Director & Co-Founder
- Dr. Luis Ponjuán, Co-Founder
- Dr. Emmet Campos, Director
- Rodrigo Aguayo, Program Coordinator
- Ricardo “Rico” Gonzalez, Administrative Program Coordinator
- Ezra U. Rebollar, Administrative Associate
Graduate Student Staff
- Diana Cervantes, Graduate Research Assistant
- Jase Kugiya, Graduate Research Assistant
- Armando Lizarraga, Graduate Research Assistant
- Gabriel Martinez, Mentoring Site Coordinator/Graduate Assistant
- Julio Mena Bernal, Mentoring Site Coordinator/Graduate Assistant
- Alicia A. Moreno, Graduate Research Assistant
- Celine Norman, Mentoring Site Coordinator/Graduate Assistant
- Lesley Rivas, Mentoring Site Coordinator/Graduate Assistant
- Gabriel Rodríguez Lemus, Jr., Graduate Research Assistant
Victor B. Sáenz, Ph.D., is the co-founder and Executive Director of Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color. He is Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin and a Professor in the Program in Higher Education Leadership (PHEL). He is the W. K. Kellogg Professor in Community College Leadership, and he also holds courtesy appointments with the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis, and the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute. Since 2008 he has also been a Faculty Fellow with the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE). Dr. Sáenz has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and recently published two books, including one on Latino males in higher education (Stylus Publishing, 2016). His current research agenda seeks to advance research-informed best practices and policy solutions that improve educational outcomes for underserved students in postsecondary education, with a special emphasis on young men of color. Dr. Saenz earned his Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Full biography is available.
Luis Ponjuán, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Project MALES and leads the Texas A&M research component. Dr. Ponjuán received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from University of Michigan in 2005. He joined the Educational Administration and Human Resources Development Department at Texas A&M University as an Associate Professor in 2012. He is the Research Director of the IDEAL (Investing in Diversity, Equity, Access, and Learning) research project. He teaches undergraduate courses in Human Resources Development and graduate courses in Higher Education. He has also graduated 12 doctoral students and over 50 masters students. His social justice research agenda focuses on Latino male students, Faculty members of color, and STEM learning outcomes. He has received over $1.6 million in external and internal research funding from the TG Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. He has met President Obama and Vice President Biden and spoken at the White House for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence. He serves on the editorial board for the ASHE Higher Education Report Series. He has published peer-reviewed journal articles, an edited book, and national policy briefs. He has received the 2016 CEHD Climate award, 2014 CEHD Outstanding New Faculty Award, the 2014 CEHD Aggies Commit to Transforming Lives Administrative Fellowship, and the 2010 SAGE Publications most downloaded journal article award. Full biography is available.
Emmet E. Campos, Ph.D., directs Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color. Dr. Campos serves as the chief operations officer for all Project MALES and Consortium activities and is responsible for communications and engagement with key partners. He oversees three interrelated initiatives that make up Project MALES: a Research Institute focused on understanding the experiences of Latinx males across the education pipeline; a statewide Consortium of diverse K-12 and higher education institutions committed to dramatically increasing student success for male students of color in the state of Texas; and the Project MALES Mentoring Program, a school-based, peer and near-peer mentoring program that engages and empowers over middle and high school BMOC’s across Central Texas, and serves as a model for other mentoring programs across Texas.
He earned his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies in Education/Curriculum and Instruction from UT Austin and has published articles in the Harvard Educational Review and Voices in Urban Education. Previously, he directed grant-funded initiatives focused on men of color in higher education and Latinx students college transfer and completion at the Center for Community College Student Engagement (UT Austin) where he directed all qualitative research initiatives, served as Project Director for the Institute for Community, University, and School Partnerships (UT Austin) building partnerships between the university, Austin ISD and the greater Austin community to empower young men of color to be academic and community leaders, and has also taught at UT Austin, St. Edward’s University and Austin Community College in the College of Education and English Departments.
Rodrigo Aguayo is the program coordinator for the Project MALES Student Mentoring Program and a second-year doctoral student in the Program for Higher Education Leadership (PHEL) at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from Texas State University with a minor in Criminal Justice and he completed his Master’s in Education in the College & University Student Personnel Administration (CUSPA) program at UT Austin. His research interests focus on Latino, first-generation, students in higher education.
Ricardo “Rico” Gonzalez is the administrative program coordinator for the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color and a first-year doctoral student in the Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership program at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Politics from Oberlin College and graduated with a Master’s in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Texas State University. Rico has worked in higher education for 12 years and his research interests include: mentoring, first-generation Latinx college students, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
Ezra U. Rebollar is the Administrative Associate for Project MALES. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a certificate in Computer Science and a minor in Business from UT Austin. Ezra is a proud first-gen graduate, raised in San Antonio, and a product of SAISD. He is a ULN alum and has worked for DDCE as a ULN intern since his sophomore year at UT. Some of his interests include data analysis, outdoor life, ethnic food, and volunteer work.
Diana Cervantes is a graduate research assistant for Project MALES and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. She is a second-year doctoral student in the Program for Higher Education Leadership at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to becoming a Longhorn, Diana earned a Master of Arts in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Crime and Law from the University of Oregon. Her research interests include Latinx community college students, workforce preparation, and student success in higher education.
Jase Kugiya is a graduate research assistant for Project MALES and is a third-year doctoral student in the Program for Higher Education Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to attending the University of Texas at Austin, Jase earned his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan where he focused on Social Policy and Evaluation and a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. Jase’s research interests include examining facilitating and inhibiting factors to access, retention, and success in higher education for students of color.
Armando Lizarraga is a graduate research assistant for Project MALES and is currently a first-year doctoral student in the Program for Higher Education Leadership at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned an Associate of Arts in general studies- social and behavioral sciences from El Camino College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Chicana/o studies and sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He recently earned his Master of Arts in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. His past experiences as a community college student inform his research interest. Armando’s research interest includes community colleges, fem/mentoring programs, student support services, Latino males in higher education, and families impacted by the carceral system.
Gabriel Martinez is a mentoring site coordinator and first-year Master’s student in the Education Policy and Planning Program at The University of Texas at Austin. He received his B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Education from Texas State University in the Fall of 2020. Gabriel’s research interests include reviewing the socio-economic factors that impact particularly young men within the Latino educational pipeline, as well as the effects of community organizing and mentorship.
Julio Mena Bernal is a mentoring site coordinator for Project MALES and a first-year Master’s student in the Education Policy and Planning Program at The University of Texas at Austin. He recently earned his B.A. in Anthropology, and a minor in Chicano/a/x and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a first-gen graduate born in Acapulco, Mexico and raised in South East LA in the city of Bell. His research interests include urban education, mental health, k-20 school reform, students of color college access and success, school segregation, and race and ethnicity.
Alicia A. Moreno is a graduate research assistant for Project MALES and the Program Coordinator for the Monarch student program with DDCE. She earned her M.Ed. from the Educational Leadership and Policy Program at the University of Texas at Austin and is a third-year doctoral student with the Higher Education Leadership Program. Alicia received her B.F.A. from the University of North Texas. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas and is a TRiO alum. Her current research interests include access, equity, persistence, and success for underrepresented students in higher education.
Celine Norman is a mentoring site coordinator and a first-year doctoral student in the Cultural Studies in Education Program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin. She received a B.A. in Psychology, and a minor in Ethnic Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and a Master’s in Cultural Studies in Education from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include critical pedagogy, critical mentoring practices, community organizing and first-generation, low-income students of color in higher education.
Lesley Rivas is a mentoring site coordinator for Project MALES and a second-year Master’s student in the Education Policy and Planning Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She recently earned her B.A. in Latina/o Studies and Spanish from the University of Michigan. Lesley’s research interests include Latinx access to higher education and educational equity for underserved students through community organizing, policy reform, and the building of culturally-competent support models.
Gabriel Rodríguez Lemus, Jr. is a second-year doctoral student in the Program in Higher Education Leadership (PHEL) at The University of Texas at Austin. Gabriel earned his M.S.Ed. in Higher Education & Student Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington and his B.A. in Sociology, concentration in Community Change from San José State University. Gabriel’s work engages, complicates, & interrogates the ways LatinX masculinities is understood, specifically for Queer LatinX collegians when navigating academe as it relates to their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, & (dis)ability. His work employs anti-colonial, postcolonial, and critical theories. He is a qualitative scholar that seeks to use participatory action research, autoethnography, critical ethnography, photo elicitations, and testimonios.