Portrait of Ninfa Sanchez smiling at the camera with a black background.


Although she never attended a university, Ninfa Sanchez fought hard throughout her life for the education of her children and for access to higher education for children of all backgrounds. Like many parents in immigrant families and families of color, Mrs. Sanchez exemplified the commitments to academic excellence, racial/ethnic equity, and social justice embodied in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. Having insured that all three of her children receive undergraduate degrees, this Memorial Fund has been established to support students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in American Studies and Ethnicity that also embody these commitments she held so dear. The following awards are from this Memorial Fund set up by her family and friends to commemorate her life of dedication and those of other families who have had similar struggles for educational access and equity.

Ninfa Sanchez Memorial Undergraduate Prize ($500)
Ninfa Sanchez Memorial Graduate Prize ($500)

To be eligible, an undergraduate must be enrolled as a major or minor in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity, and a graduate student must be enrolled in the Ph.D. program in American Studies & Ethnicity.

This year, nominations will only be accepted by core or affiliate faculty members in American Studies & Ethnicity.  Please only submit one nomination in each category per faculty member.  A copy of the paper (electronic preferred) must be submitted to aseinfo@usc.edu.

Undergraduate Papers due 5/6/2020; Prize Awarded 5/14/20 at the 2020 ASE Commencement Reception.

Graduate Papers due 11/12/2020; Prize Awarded 11/29/20 at the ASE Holiday Party

Final decisions for the prizes will be made by the respective graduate and undergraduate committees of ASE.


2020 Thirteenth Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Ivonne Rodriguez (Undergraduate) — “A Challenged Coexistence: An Examination of the Spatial Imaginary of Survivors of Interracial Gang Violence”


2008 First Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Adriana Resendez (Undergraduate) — “’Here we are all the same?’: Pre and Post-migration Intra-Ethnic Relations Among Guatemalan Women,”

Divinity Barkley (Undergraduate) — “Kaya Hip-Hop in Coastal Kenya: The Urban Poetry of Ukoo Flani.”

Terrion Williamson(Graduate) — “Blackness, Death and the Pleasure Principle: Of “Nappy-Headed Hos” and the Serial Murder of African American Women.”


2009 Second Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Lauren DeLilly (Undergraduate)– “Illustrating Race: African American and Chicano Art Shaping Interethnic Diversity”

Max Felker-Kantor (Graduate)– ” ‘A Pledge is not Self-enforcing’: Struggles for Equal Employment Opportunity in Los Angeles 1964-1981″


2010 Third Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Nicole Perez (Undergraduate) – “Disney’s Princess and the Frog: A Spin Off of a Classic Tale and a new Direction for Disney”

Jessica Quizar (Graduate)– “Transnational Campesinos: Food Sovereignty in South Central Los Angeles”


2011 Fourth Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Micah Scheidlin (Undergraduate)– “Latino Interests and Congressional Redistricting in Los Angeles County”


2013 Sixth Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Charnan Williams (Undergraduate) — “Lost in the City of Angels: A Comparative Analysis of Central Avenue and Leimert Park as Black Cultural Spaces”

Umayyah Cable (Graduate) — ” ‘I’ve been here all my life:’ Diasporic Identity Politics in the Transnational Landscapes of Palestinian Cinema”


2014 Seventh Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Carrie Moore (Undergraduate) – “Somewhere We Call Home”

Joshua A. Mitchell (Graduate) – “The Scandal in ‘We the People’: Touching the U.S. Constitution”


2015 Eighth Annual Ninfa Sanchez Awards

Breanna Betts(Undergraduate) — “Remembering & Forgetting Psychiatric Survivors:  Restoration & Restitution in Asylum Cemeteries”

Rosanne Sia(Graduate) — “The Harmonies of Ranchera Song and the Dissonance of Race: The Many Faces of Janet Cortez”


2016 Ninth Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Irene Martinez (Undergraduate) – The Voice of Community: Resilency of Latina Immigrant Women

Khadeejah Avvirin Gray (Graduate) — God’s Other Face: Zora Neale Hurston’s Black Ontology as Black Love


2017 Tenth Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Jenny Villegas (Undergraduate) – “Virgen, Soldadera, y Chicana: La Virgen de Guadalupe and Transborder Social Movements”

Emmett Harsin Drager (Graduate) — “Looking After Mrs. G: Approaches and Methods for Reading, Transsexual Clinical Case Files”


2018 Eleventh Annual Ninfa Sánchez Awards

Thomas Martin Rubio (Undergraduate) – “A New Kind Of Narrative: Why Storytelling Is Crucial To Writing Successful Protest Songs in the Contemporary Music Scene”

Contact Us

Department of American Studies & Ethnicity

Located in Kaprielian Hall on the University Park campus, ASE faculty, graduate students, and staff are available to assist you with information and resources about our academic programs and research specialties.


University of Southern California

3620 South Vermont Avenue

Kaprielian Hall 462

Los Angeles, California 90089-2534