Six Hispanic American Women You May Have Never Heard Of But Should

Celebrating Hispanic American Month

Isabel Allende is an American citizen from Chile. She has contributed to the literature landscape through acclaimed novels such as Eva Luna and The House of the Spirits and is known as the most widely read Spanish author. Her books focus on the experiences of women, often with elements of magic woven through them. She fled Chile and came to the United States via Venezuela when her uncle, Salvador Allende, who had been the democratically elected president of Chile, was overthrown by a military coup.

Olga D. González-Sanabria is a longtime director of engineering at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center. She is a scientist and inventor who developed the longcycle-life batteries that power the International Space Station. Ms. González-Sanabria is Puerto Rican.

Joan Baez was an integral part of the 1960’s folk revival, an important cultural phenomenon that defines the time. She was active in the Civil Rights movement and instrumental in founding the American chapter of Amnesty International. Since the 1960’s, Ms. Baez has continued to sing for major peace and human rights organizations and incorporates social justice in her music. She is Mexican American.

Linda Chavez was the highest ranking woman in the Reagan’s White House Staff. Under Reagan, she served as the White House Director of Public Liaison (1985) and as the Director of U.S. Commission of Civil Rights (1983-1985). She continues to work as a conservative political commentator. Ms. Chavez is of Neomexicana descent. Neomexicanos are those in the Southwest U.S. who descend from the original Spanish settlers who settled in what was then the North West part of the Spanish colony of México. Neomexicanos are largely bilingual, speaking Neomexican Spanish and English.

Mirta Ojito is a Pultizer Prize-winning, Cuban American journalist. At 16, Ms. Ojito left Cuba with her family on a boat to escape the Communist regime. Upon finishing her education in Florida, she began working for the Miami Herald. She, along with a group of writers at the New York Times, won the Pultizer Prize for writing a series of articles on race in America. She has taught journalism at New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Miami.

Ana Maria Rey is a Colombian American theoretical quantum physicist. She came to the United States to pursue higher education. She completed her PhD at the University of Maryland and her post doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. She is a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant” due to the difficulty in getting this award.

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