Maria Oropeza

Charter College of Education
Office KH2031
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Dr. Oropeza is an Assistant Professor in Applied and Advanced Studies in Education.

Research interests: Transforming the PreK-20 pipeline to higher education through research. Such a transformation requires the development of leaders to effectively work with culturally, linguistically and economically diverse populations. Instead of focusing on the deficits of students and educators, and the deprivation of institutions and communities, a closer examination of policies and practices that purport to promote equity must be investigated as well as the ways that educators can and do struggle to create equity. As a scholar, I work to advance this transformation through my research and by working with leaders, educators, parents/community members.

Select Publications: 

Oropeza Fujimoto, M., Contreras, F., & Cervantes, A. (2022). Exploring the Production of Teachers in an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) System. In Fenwick, L., Gist, C., & Bristol, T. Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color. American Educational Research Association.

Ochoa, G, Ochoa, E., Oropeza Fujimoto, M., Orozco, S., Coreas, B, Coreas, J., Oropeza Fujimoto, E., Maldonado, M., Miranda, V. (2022).  “Hijacking a Public Process:” The School District and Community Activists in the Battle for Trustee Area Representation. In Rodela, K.C. & Bertrand, M. (2022). Centering Youth, Family, and Community in School Leadership: Case Studies for Educational Equity and Justice. Routledge Taylor Francis Group.

Enriquez, L.E., Chavarria, K., Ayón, E., Ellis, B., Hagan, M.J., Jefferies, J., Lara, J., Hernandez, M.M., Murillo, E., Nájera, J., Offidani-Bertrand, C, Oropeza Fujimoto, M., Ro, A., Rodriguez, V.E., Rosales, W., Sarabia, H., Valadez, M., Valarde Pierce, S., Valdez, Z. (2021). Toward a nuanced and contextualized understanding of undocumented college students: Lessons from a California Survey. Journal of Latinos and Education, 20 (3) 215-231.

Ochoa, G., Ochoa, E., Orozco, S., Oropeza Fujimoto, M., Fujimoto, E., & Coreas, J. (2020). ¡Juntos Podemos! Community Organizing and the Struggle for School Transformation in a Southern California School District. Journal of Latinos and Education. DOI:10.1080/15348431.2020.1828088

Contreras, F. & Oropeza Fujimoto, M. (2019). College Readiness for ELLs in California: Assessing Equity for ELLs under the Local Control Funding Formula. Peabody Journal of Education, 94(2),209-225.

Oropeza Fujimoto, M. & Fujimoto, E. (2018). Leadership Development: The Relevance of Historical Consciousness and Identity in Eliciting Master Degree Student Voice. Journal of Ethical Educational Leadership.

Oropeza Fujimoto, M. (2015). A call for intersectionality to better understand academic achievement of Latina college graduates. In J.D. Davis, R. Brunn-Bevel, J. Olive. Intersectionality in Educational Research. Sterling, VA. Stylus.

Oropeza Fujimoto, M., & Luna, M. U. (2014). Theory to practice: problematizing student affairs work through intersectionality. In D. Mitchell, C.Y. Simmons, L.A. Greyerbiehl (Eds.). Intersectionality and Higher Education: Theory, Research, and Praxis. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Oropeza Fujimoto, M. (2013). Resisting the dominant narrative: The role of stories in Latina educational success. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, 7 (1), 38-47.

Oropeza, M., Varghese, M., & Kanno, Y. (2010). Linguistic minority students in higher education: Using, resisting, and negotiating labels. Equity & Excellence in Education,43 (2), 216-231.

Teaching philosophy:

Teaching is both a calling and a practice. As a calling, teaching requires an emphasis on personal development, social justice, and student learning/ student success. As an instructor, my goal is to have all students actively engage in class by validating their backgrounds and experiences, guide them through the different levels of complexity of course content and applying concepts to real situtations.  I also bring my passion for teaching educational leaders and professionals as well as my experiences as a practitioner and educational leader working effectively with diverse populations. Finally, my pedagogical process includes collaboration, team teaching, and creating an environment that fosters students learning from each other as well as from multiple perspectives including those of practitioners and researchers.

Journey to the Professoriate:

As a newcomer to California, I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to do the work that matters in service of students and communities which led me learning/working at the three different systems of public higher education in California. In my quest, to do the work that matters, I engaged in research about Local Control Funding and the College Readiness of ELL students and worked with doctoral students as a Visiting Scholar at UC San Diego. I taught master’s and doctoral students in the Educational Leadership Program at California State University Fullerton and served as a faculty coordinator of the Strengthening Opportunities, Access & Resources (SOAR) grant working with graduate students. Additionally, I had the opportunity to be a part of the journey of Rio Hondo College students as adjunct counselor teaching career development courses.

Student Affairs:

I served as an Assistant Dean of Students at Marquette University after working at four different campuses, both public and private institutions supervising staff in the areas of leadership development, multicultural affairs, academic advising and women’s issues. As such, I understand the holistic development of students and have a comprehensive view of student affairs especially the programmatic, administrative and fiscal aspects of programs and services.


I serve on the Governance Committee for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and have presented at numerous professional conferences including ACPA, NASPA, AERA, and ASHE.

I hail from the Midwest and I am the daughter of two English language learners, one who became a bilingual teacher after having four children; the other who became an engineer. I received my doctorate from the University of Washington.