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The queen of UTEP’s Liberal Arts: A journey in education

Jasmin Campoya
Ontiveros teaches several courses at UTEP related to gender theory and analysis.

This past month The University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research and Women (SIROW) recently awarded its prestigious regional scholar of the year award to UTEP’s very own Hilda Ontiveros Arrieta, Ph.D., for the 2022-2023 season. The award is given to those who have demonstrated excellence in SIROW’s goal of improving the well-being of females and the communities they live in. Ontiveros’ research puts emphasis on this philosophy, with her work focusing on the measure of value of women’s studies programs and ethnic studies programs for higher education students enrolled in Hispanic-Serving Institutions.  

 Ontiveros is a professor and Interim Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at UTEP. Ontiveros is an El Paso native, with her father working at ASARCO, a copper smelting plant, and her mother working as a homemaker.  

Ontiveros and her family fell in the bracket of a lower middle-class family and knew it would be a difficult journey to obtain a higher level of education.  

However, this obstacle was no match for her determination as she most recently gained her doctorate at UTEP from the College of Education in May 2022, marking her near 20-year journey in the world of higher education.   

“So, I have a long trajectory here in the university, and I did go to other universities intermittently,” Ontiveros said. “I studied abroad at the medical school of Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. I studied abroad in Spain and in Mexico City. I did a lot of bouncing around, but I always came back home to UTEP.”   

Ontiveros speaks on the affordability UTEP granted her as an upcoming student and how after earning her second master’s degree, everything seemed to click in place.   

“After I earned my second master’s degree, I started working for Chicano Studies and became a faculty member for Women’s and Gender Studies,” Ontiveros said.   

Then through 13 to 14 years of hard work in the university system, Ontiveros obtained her doctorate in educational administration in higher education, landing her the position of Interim Director of Women’s and Gender Studies.    

Part of Ontiveros’ determination and mindset of working hard comes from the struggles her family endured early on.  

“All of our family worked in that copper smelting industry, a lot of them farm workers,” Ontiveros said. “My aunts and uncles were born in the beet and chili fields. My grandmother had nine children (one of them my mother), and they were farm workers, some of them being born on the dirt of the fields, with a few dying of malnutrition.”   

Ontiveros reflects on how much she has worked to be where she is right now and embraces her roots.  

“So, I think about that, every time I drive to work down the freeway and I exit Schuster to come to UTEP,” she said. “As I come into work, I never take it for granted that those are my roots growing up in this community. I think that’s what drives me every day to do better and (be) better and learn more so that I can be a better servant and steward of my community.”   

At first Ontiveros studied Microbiology, with the hopes of going into the medical field.  

However, because of unaffordable prices, a new road was paved leading her to women’s studies.  

“I just kind of landed with women’s studies,” Ontiveros said. “I got pushed in that direction as I saw the way the nation was moving, that women’s rights needed to be addressed and that we needed to promote equality. The Chicano studies and women’s studies courses really opened my eyes and broadened my perspective.”  

As Ontiveros has gone through her academic and personal journey, she has picked up advice she hopes to instill in young women from all over who may be going through difficulties themselves.   

“Keep pushing on,” she said. “Put your head down like a football player and run through it, we have to be twice as hard, three times as hard to the person next to us.”   

Ontiveros is another graduate to make the UTEP community proud to call themselves Miners.  

H. Catching Marginot is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected].


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About the Contributors
H. Catching Marginot, Contributor/Writer
Henry Catching Marginot is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English: rhetorical studies. He is a contributor at The Prospector and freelances. He plans to pursue writing in the future.
Jasmin Campoya, Photographer
Jasmin Campoya is a bilingual student who is a senior currently majoring in digital media production at UTEP. She is a staff photographer for The Prospector, a photo editor for Minero Magazine, and is currently a social media and marketing intern for El Paso Inc. All while being a full time student, she also takes photos for her own small business, JasminCPhoto. Jasmin plans on continuing photography and hopes to work full time at an El Paso publication.
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The queen of UTEP’s Liberal Arts: A journey in education