Luis A. Perales

About Luis A. Perales

Luis Alberto Perales Villarreal, M.S. is a native son of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.  He is the son of an immigrant mother and an 6th generation Tejano father.  His rural upbringing along the U.S./Mexico borderlands is the backdrop to his intimate relationship with the Mexican American culture.  A transplant to Tucson, AZ and the Sonoran Desert, Luis has spent over a decade in the Old Pueblo.  He is a two time graduate of the University of Arizona, earning his BA in Mexican American Studies in 2002, his MS in Mexican American Studies with a concentration in Latino Health in 2012, and he is currently pursuing his PhD as part of the first PhD cohort for the Mexican American Studies program.  He is a former Co-chair of M.E.Ch.A. at the U of A, a transformative educator at Changemaker High School, and community organizer with Tierra Y Libertad Organization. He has had the honor of being a two time EXPORT Fellow and a Green For All Academy Fellow.  He has directed his energies to train and develop community at the grassroots level in the areas of health promotion, cultural preservation, and environmental sustainability.

His passion and dedication to the Tucson community begins when he gained employment as a youth programs intern in the Youth Services Department of Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC).  In this position, he aided the department to implement its many culturally based programs and services.  This experience prepared him for his future employment in the areas of Behavioral Health and Prevention.  As a cultural health worker, Luis was able to continue his relationship with CPLC by providing health and cultural promotion classes at Calli Ollin High School.  After several years of successful partnership, Luis began to work with the South Tucson Prevention Collaborative, a multi agency collaboration that helped to bring prevention and cultural education services to young people in the City of South Tucson.  In the end, his passion for teaching culture and history became his focal point, and in 2005, Luis gained employment with CPLC Community Schools and joined the teaching ranks of Toltecalli High School.  For a period of five years he was the Cultural Studies instructor for the school, giving guidance and direction to his students in the areas of Mexican American history, Latino Health, and Service Learning.  His top accomplishment at Toltecalli was the creation, implementation, and growth of the Toltecalli Sustainability Project, a multiyear, college preparatory program that integrated academics, authentic social research, career exploration, and community service.  Since 2012, Luis had held the position of Academic Director at the Western Institute for Leadership Development, Tucson’s first Changemaker high school, dedicated to providing high school youth with the opportunity to engage in a transformative educational experience that is based in social equity, environmental sustainability, and youth voice.     

With respect to his dedication to cultural and environmental sustainability, Luis credits his upbringing along the U.S.-Mexico border.  His family has had an intimate relationship with agriculture and land management since before the Mexican Revolution.  They have continually worked land on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and have instilled the values of culture and ecological preservation into all that they do.  Luis has taken these precious lessons with him everywhere that he has gone and has learned to integrate them into both his personal as well as professional endeavors. A true testament to this practice is his role as co-founder and community organizer of Tierra Y Libertad Organization, a grassroots organization that works for positive social change and for the respect of land, people, and culture.  His leadership and dedication to this work has lead to the creation of the Barrio Sustainability Project, a community development endeavor dedicated to organizing the South Side Tucson community around the need for a model of urban green living and self sufficiency that is socially relevant and culturally based. 

Luis A. Perales's picture

Contact Information


Graduate Certificate        
Univerisity of Arizona, Office of Instruction and Assesment, Graduate Certificate in College Teaching, 2014.

University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies, Latino Health Concentration, 2012.
Thesis: Toward Barrio Sustainability: A Mixed Methods Approach to Seeking Spatial Justice.
Cumulative GPA 4.0.
Committee Co-Chairs: Dr. Lydia Otero, Dr. Julio Camarrota, and Dr. Patricia Gonzales.

University of Arizona, Major in Mexican American Studies, Thematic Minor in Spanish & Public Health, 2002. Dean’s List.

Dissertation Title

Cultural Empowerment Zones, Framework Change, and Mexican American Studies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Courses Taught


MAS 365: Latinos and Latinas: Emerging Contemporary Social Issues. 
The course utilize a critical analyses and social science research approach to deconstruct and help students develop an understanding of the contemporary issues related to Latinos and the environment.