Estrella Torrez

Estrella  Torrez
  • Associate Professor
  • CLS Core Faculty
  • Residential College in Arts and Humanities


Dr. Estrella Torrez is an Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Her research centers on language politics and the importance of community-based knowledge, particularly among rural Latino families and urban Indigenous youth. Dr. Torrez is a Gates Millennium Scholar, being awarded the prestigious award during its inaugural year. In 2009, Torrez co-founded the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program (IYEP), a program serving urban Native youth and families in Michigan. She presently serves as IYEP’s co-director and facilitates an afterschool program for youth in Kindergarten through twelfth grades, as well as organizes a summer cultural camp for 65 urban Indigenous youth. From 2011-2013, Dr. Torrez served as a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Detroit Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where she was charged with interrogating structural racism embedded in housing, education, and criminal systems. In her tenure at MSU, she has taught five experiential-based university courses on Latino and Indigenous issues in Mexico and the US Southwest, as well as four on-campus collaborative courses with Migrant Student Services. In the spring of 2013, she initiated the Nuestros Cuentos collaborative project with the College Assistance Migrant Program and Lansing School District. Nuestros Cuentos brings together students from MSU’s RCAH and CAMP with 4th-6th grade Lansing Latino youth in a storytelling project. The project results in a fully illustrated children’s book sharing the Latino youth’s experiences of living in Michigan. Since the inception of Nuestros Cuentos over forty children have had their stories published in two volumes. In addition to her community-based research, Dr. Torrez scholarly interests include the intersection of critical pedagogy, civic engagement, multicultural education, Indigenous education and sociocultural literacy.