Lecturer and Faculty Advisors

Former faculty advisor Dr. Olga Nájera Ramírez (left, 1996-2018), current Lecturer Malena Vega (center, 2021-Present) and current advisor Dr. Russell Rodriguez (far right, 2018-present)

Dr. Olga Nájera-Ramírez began dancing at UC Santa Cruz with Grupo Folklorico Los Mejicas. She subsequently spent 3 years at the Universidad de Guadalajara studying dance and participating in Grupo Folklórico de la Universidad de Guadalajara. She returned to the U.S. and obtained a Ph.D in Anthropology at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1989 she became faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. She served as faculty advisor for Los Mejicas from Fall 1996 to Spring 2018. Click here to visit Dr. Nájera-Ramirez's department page for contact and further information. 

Malena Vega began dancing as a child and has worked with some of the best Mexican folklórico dancers on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border. She earned her BA in Anthropology at UCSC and danced with Grupo Folklórico Los Mejicas. After graduation, Malena continued to enhance her expertise in folklórico dance by enrolling in seminars, dance conferences, and workshops in Mexico. She danced with Grupo Folklórico Los Lupeños de San Jose for 12 years and has taught at numerous places including Los Lupeños Academy, the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, the San Jose Mariachi Festival, and the Santa Cruz Ethnic Dance Festival .She also serves as  folklórico instructor and board trustee for the Santa Cruz non-profit Senderos, which serves youth with access to arts and culture through education.

Dr. Russell Rodríguez is both an innovative scholar and a highly skilled musician with expertise in production, recording, composition, and performance. He started dancing folklórico as a child and by the age of 10 he began playing traditional forms of Mexican music apprenticing and performing with some of the finest traditional musicians on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.  In 2006, he received a Ph.D in Anthropology from the UC Santa Cruz and is currently assistant professor in the Music Department at UC Santa Cruz. Click here to visit Dr. Rodríguez's department page for contact and further information.