Rivas-Rodriguez has more than 17 years of daily news experience, mostly as a reporter for the Boston Globe, WFAA-TV in Dallas and the Dallas Morning News. Her first job was as a copy editor for UPI in Dallas. Her most recent professional work was for the Morning News state desk as bureau chief of the border bureau, based in El Paso, covering border states.
Her research interests include the intersection of oral history and journalism, U.S. Latinos and the news media, both as producers of news and as consumers. Since 1999, Rivas-Rodriguez has spearheaded the U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project, which has collected interviews with over 650 men and women throughout the country. Stories based on those interviews are written by UT journalism students, as part of their coursework. The project has several components designed to reach audiences ranging from school children, to academics, to the general public. Those components include conferences, books, a two-act play, (through Arizona State University Public Events and the University of Texas' Performing Arts Center), educational materials. At the heart of the project is a rich archive of primary source material, in the form of videotaped interviews, photographs and other documentation. The project has enjoyed support from the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News, from foundations, corporations and hundreds of individual donors. It continues to gather interviews, largely with the help of a small army of volunteers made up of professional journalists, academics and others. It has also relied on partnerships with universities, various centers, and with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Readjustment Counseling Service.
Rivas-Rodriguez has been recognized nationally for helping to create greater awareness of the contributions of U.S. Latinos & Latinas of the World War II generation. In 2007, she received the National Council of La Raza's Ruben Salazar Award for Communications, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Leadership Award and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education's Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education. She was also named to the DFW Network of Hispanic Communicator's Hall of Fame in 2006.
Rivas-Rodriguez has long been active since her college years in volunteer efforts to bring greater diversity to the news media. She was on the committee that organized and founded the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 1982. She began two of the NAHJ's most successful student projects: a convention newspaper produced by college students and professionals and a nationwide high school writing contest. The convention newspaper has become the model for other industry organizations (ASNE, NABJ, AAJA) as a way to develop mentoring relationships and to train students.
She received her Ph.D. as a Freedom Forum doctoral fellow from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her masters is from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and her bachelor of journalism degree is from the University of Texas at Austin.
Recent Courses: PA 388K Latino Policy Issues (cross-listed with journalism and Mexican American Studies); J349T Covering the U.S. Latino Community; J366 Journalism History; J320D Intermediate Reporting; J349T Oral History as Journalism; J395 Covering the U.S.-Mexico Border and J395 Professional Writing for Journalists.
Publications: "A Legacy Greater than Words: Stories of Latinos & Latinas of the World War II Generation," with Juliana Torres, Melissa DiPiero-D'Sa and Lindsay Fitzpatrick (Austin: U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project, 2006); Mexican Americans & World War II, an edited volume (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005); Brown Eyes on the Web: An Alternative U.S. Latino Newspaper on the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2003).