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The son of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, Dr. Sifuentez grew up in rural Oregon. As a child he read voraciously even while working alongside his parents in the onion fields. At an early age he became acutely aware of injustice and it had a profound effect on him. His appetite for reading led him to open his eyes way beyond the circumstances of his life. He did well in school and had opportunities that his parents could hardly have imagined.
Dr. Sifuentez attended the University of Oregon on an academic scholarship and became involved in campus politics and was a vocal student leader. He held various leadership positions in M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan), the Multicultural Center, and student government. Along with other activists he founded the Oregon Students of Color Coalition, an organization committed to fighting for educational access for students of color. He graduated a triple major in History, Ethnic Studies, and Political Science. He continued his education at the University of Oregon receiving a Masters in History. He also mentored and tutored student athletes while working for the athletic department.
Instead of becoming a full time organizer, he decided to pursue his PhD at Brown University. At Brown, Sifuentez worked with his mentor Matthew Garcia on the award winning Smithsonian exhibit on Braceros. He began teaching as a graduate student at Brown University where he was awarded Top Ten Classes in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly for his Sports, Race, and Gender course. He was awarded his American Studies PhD in 2010. His dissertation about Mexican workers in the Pacific Northwest has been developed into a forthcoming book from Rutgers University Press.
Dr. Sifuentez began his professional career at the University of California, Merced, in the heart of the California’s Central Valley. The first Research-One university built in the 21st century, the school is known for its diverse student body and emerging academic reputation. On campus he sits on the Undergraduate Council, Athletic Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies working group.
His current project focuses on farm workers, water rights, and food equity in the Central Valley.
Dr. Sifuentez currently lives in Fresno, with his wife Sarah and baby boy, Santana. When he isn’t working he enjoys watching his Oregon Ducks play on Saturdays.
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