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My Bio

Irene Sanchez, Ph.D. is a Xicana Mama, Teacher, Writer, Poet, and Public Scholar. Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Inland Empire, she first learned about Ethnic Studies/Chicano Studies from her first teachers, her parents who were born and raised in East Los Angeles. Irene attended Rubidoux High School, where she was a freshman student in the first Chicano Studies course demanded by the community following walkouts due to the racist proposition, Prop 187. Dr. Sanchez proudly attended a California Community College (Riverside City College) where she was placed on academic probation and dismissal, but thankfully had many people who believed in her who helped her find her way.  

After 5 years in community college, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz where she earned her B.A. in Latin American/Latino Studies and Sociology. She went on to earn a M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington-Seattle with a Higher Education concentration. In addition, Dr. Sanchez completed a graduate certificate in Feminist Studies and was a fellow in the Public Scholarship program at the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities. She completed  a California single subject social studies teaching credential in 2019.

After teaching college level Ethnic Studies and Education courses for nearly 8 years, Dr. Sanchez is proudly a high school teacher. She teaches the only Chicano/Latino Studies course at three high schools everyday in the Azusa Unified School District. Dr. Sanchez was selected as a Teacher Fellow for the Pulitzer Center in 2021 and was a member of the National Humanities Center Teacher Advisory Council for the 2019-2020 school year where she was the only teacher from California and only Ethnic Studies teacher on the 20 member council. In addition to teaching high school she is an education consultant and writer, and an instructor for the University of California, Riverside's Extension program for the Ethnic Studies Teaching Program. 


An award wining poet/writer, public scholar, and author of the blog “Xicana Ph.D.”, Dr. Sanchez’ was the recipient of the 2018 Joe Hill Labor Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in CNN, HuffPost, Public Radio International, Zocalo Public Square, Inside Higher Ed and more. Her commentary has been featured by multiple public radio outlets and print publications including KPCC, KPFK, NPR Latino USA, LA Times, Education Week, and ProPublica among some. 

She lives in Riverside, CA with her husband Arturo and son Quetzal. 

Formal Schooling​


2015-Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
University of Washington, Seattle

2011-M.Ed. Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

University of Washington, Seattle

2008-BA Sociology and Latin American/Latino Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

2005-A.A. Social Science

Riverside City College

2005-A.S. General Science

Riverside City College


Single Subject Teaching Credential-Social Studies

2014-Graduate Certificate Feminist Studies
University of Washington, Seattle

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