In the spirit of healing, I acknowledge and honor the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, and all the original Indigenous peoples of the land upon which University of Denver stands.
As an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work, my scholarship focuses on the intersections of historical trauma, embodiment, and environmental and social determinants of health as they affect overall health and wellness in Indigenous communities. My current focus is on HIV disparities in Indigenous women and youth with an emerging interest in exploring traditional cultural beliefs and eroticism as a means to increase healthy sexuality and sexual behaviors.
I am a mixed-race Xicana of Yaqui descent. As such, I am committed to interrupting legacies of historical trauma that continue to affect our communities, resulting in high rates of health disparities and ongoing socio-structural inequalities. I am particularly interested in disrupting the problem-focused approach to understanding Indigenous health and well being that is common in mainstream research. It is my aim to center cultural protective factors, strengths and resiliencies, art, and storytelling in investigating and collaborating with Indigenous communities, as these approaches have been shown to interrupt the intergenerational transmission of historical trauma.
In research, I strive to utilize decolonizing methodologies with an emphasis on qualitative methods that incorporate innovative creative technologies (e.g. digital storytelling, digital photography) to support community-based participatory research. As I continue to improve my own knowledge and expertise with interpretive, alternative, and arts-based qualitative methods, I am also committed to providing instruction and mentorship to students that are interested in including these methods in their own scholarship.
I believe narrative is both a powerful clinical practice and research method that helps individuals, families and communities articulate the conditions of their own existence, as well as solutions to their most pressing issues. I integrate narrative principles and practice into all of my classes and research projects and am consistently struck by the transformative possibilities it encourages in learning and healing.
I am passionate about teaching and believe that social work classrooms can be uniquely transformative spaces in which students learn to bridge theory and practice through embodied and experiential learning. Whether in the classroom, in community-based research or through community activism, I believe that social work practice and scholarship have the capacity to mobilize in co-authoring new stories of healing and equity as we strive toward a socially just society.
SOCWK 4007: Community/Macro Social Work Theory and Practice
SOCWK 4435: Community Organizing/Empowerment with Diverse Communities
SOCWK 4764: Historical Trauma and Healing
SOCWK 4990/5990: InDIGIqualitative Research Methods
SOCWK 4751: Global Relations and Social Justice in Mexico
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Original poems published in As/Us, Indigenous Women's Literary Journal, Issue 3. Full journal available on Amazon.
A community-based anthology produced by social work graduate students in a course exploring community empowerment. The collection includes poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, digital photography, and drawings/sketches that represent student and student-curated reflections on power, privilege, oppression and the meaning of empowerment. It is an example of using narrative techniques to engage critical and creative consciousness for social change.
Danza Azteca presented at "An Evening of World Dance", Athena Project Festival, 2015
2014 marked both the 150th anniversary of DU's founding and the Sand Creek Massacre. Under the leadership of Dr. Nancy Wadsworth, the John Evans Committee worked with Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes to research and write a report detailing John Evans' participation in the Massacre. Read the full report and recommendations here:
I am on the Board of Directors for the innovative creative expression organization, Cafe Cultura - nationally recognized spoken word and arts-based empowerment program focused on healing indigenous and latino communities. We have open mics the second Friday of every month at La Academia in Denver's historic Santa Fe district.
Selected photos and images from collaborative art projects, including:
Real Life Indian Project - Photo by Viki Eagle
Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange - Photo by Will Wilson
Homenaje al Venado (Photos and Paintings) - Photos by Ramona Beltran
Digital Storytelling as Indigenous Health Promotion Tool
Collaborative scholarship and mentorship with Women of Color in higher education
HIV health disparities and honoring Native women
The importance of place in the health and wellness of Indigenous communities
Historical trauma and embodiment
Harm reduction strategies and sexual behaviors in AIAN MSM
Current and recent research projects featured in the Spring 2015 issues of the DU Graduate School of Social Work issue, including:
Indigenous Youth Rise Up: A Culture-Centered HIV Prevention Curriculum (funded by DU Public Good Grant)
HIV and Alcohol and Other Drugs Needs Assessment with Mexican American Indians (Funded by Indigenous HIV/AIDS Research Training Program, a project of the National Institute of Mental Health)
Aotearoa Digital Storytelling as Indigenous Media Project (funded by the Toihuarewa Visting Indigenous Scholar program at University of Victoria at Wellington, New Zealand)
Browse through previous GSSW Magazine for publications, projects, presentations and awards and check out some of the other great work being done by students, staff, and faculty.
Some of the crew of dedicated facilitators and research team for the IYR curriculum.
Dr. Ramona Beltrán, Dr. Debora Ortega and the DU Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship (DULCCES) partnered with the Office of Minority Health Resource Center to host the regional Higher Education Technical Assistance Project (HE-TAP) conference at GSSW.
This portfolio last updated: 10-May-2018 1:41 PM