Contact Us

Dr. Maria E. Cruz
SSS (ASPIRE) - McNair Director

Dr. Maria Elena Cruz is a descendant of the Huichol (Wixaritari) people of Mexico, and born in Northern California. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college and the first to receive her Ph.D. She received her B.A. in English with an emphasis on Twentieth Century Literature (from Modern to Contemporary) Anglophone and Multicultural Studies from U.C. Berkeley (2004).

Dr. Cruz is also proud to be a McNair Scholar Alumnus from U.C. Berkeley. She completed her Masters in Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of Texas Austin (2007) and a Ph.D. from the same department in 2013. Dr. Cruz loves to spend time with her family, friends and enjoys traveling.

Taylor-Dawn Francis
McNair Coordinator

Taylor-Dawn Francis is a first-generation student from San José, California. Inspired by the opportunity to capture, portray, and document underrepresented individuals in the literary canon, she chose to devote her studies to English. In addition to working on San José State University’s Reed Magazine, she has served as an editor for the English Department’s newsletter, and a tutor for SJSU’s 100W courses.

Throughout her academic career, her research interests have focused on gender studies, queer theory, and critical race theory. In her work as both a Writing Specialist and Program Assistant for the McNair Scholars Program, she has strived to create spaces for people of color in all areas of academia. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and collaborating on short stories and novels, and critically engaging movies and TV shows. Currently, she is working on finishing her debut novel.

Martha Toral
Analyst and Administrative Coordinator

Martha is a first generation student and native born San Jose, Californian. Her love of the sciences inspired her to decision to major in STEM. She graduated from SJSU with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Martha is a wonderful new addition to the office and has reorganized the entire program. She is awesome and we are thankful for her!