Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award

Virginia Espino and Hector Tobar

Location: La Feliz Room, Seymour Center @ Long Marine Lab


The Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to a graduate whose career is characterized by sustained and exemplary contributions to society through research, practice, education, policy, or service. Recipients bring enduring honor to UC Santa Cruz and the division of Social Sciences, and we look forward to celebrating together as we kick off Alumni Weekend 2018.

Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award this year are:

  • Héctor Tobar, BA – Sociology, Oakes College (’88), MFA from UC Irvine
  • Virginia Espino, BA – Psychology, Merrill College (‘87), Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University

Héctor Tobar’s long career in journalism includes reporting for the  New Yorker, LA Weekly, and Los Angeles Times. At the Times, he was a Metro columnist, a book critic, and bureau chief in Mexico City and in Buenos Aires. For several years, he was the National Latino Affairs Correspondent. Tobar is the author of four books, including the bestselling Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle That Set Them Free. Tobar is currently an associate professor in Chicano/Latino Studies, English, and Literary Journalism at the University of California, Irvine. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a proud native of the city of Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Virginia Espino and their three children.

Virginia Espino is an oral and public historian whose research focuses on health activism, motherhood, and the varied uses of public space. As the Series Leader for Latina and Latino History at UCLA’s Center for Oral History Research, she developed oral history projects around civil rights struggles that document the role of the California Latinx community in creating social change. Her investigation of the history of coercive sterilization at the Los Angeles-USC Medical Center provided the impetus for the Emmy-nominated documentary No Más Bebés/No More Babies, for which she is a Producer and Lead Historian. Espino currently teaches at UCLA in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department and the Labor and Workplace Studies program. She is an active member in both the southwest chapter and the national Oral History Association. Espino is a native daughter of California, born and raised in northeastern Los Angeles. She is married to Héctor Tobar, and they have three children.

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