Due to the impact of COVID-19, our Ethnic & Gender campus locations are closed until further notice. Our staff is working remotely and available to support you along your Highlander journey. We look forward to being back on campus and supporting you in-person. Please continue to wash your hands, wear a face covering, and maintain physical distance.




Our staff members know the power of giving back. Each one has made a true commitment to support UCR’s Chicano/Latino community, and each has their own story of how they got here, what they value, and why they love working at Chicano Student Programs.

Meet Our Staff

Estella Acuña,Director

Serving the campus since 1996
Phone: (951) 827-3822
Email: Estella Acuna


I joined the Chicano Student Programs staff in 1996 and, in a span of seven years, went from being the student assistant to the program director.

After high school, I attended Riverside Community College, where I received my associate degree. I then transferred to UCR, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chicano studies. I am the first in my family to attend college.

I truly enjoy my job; it is absolutely my dream job. I enjoy working with the students, faculty, and staff. My involvement, mentors, and studies have inspired me to give back to the community and try to make a difference. I grew up in a single-family household. My mom’s values, survival, and love for her children have also influenced my life. Tune in to KUCR 88.3 FM on Friday nights, and you might hear a familiar voice. ¡Adelante





Alice Chavez, Budget, Personnel & Program Assistant

Serving the campus since 2014
Phone: (951) 827-2216
Email: Alice Chavez 


I was raised in Bell Gardens, CA, a small predominantly Latino city. After graduating high school in 2010, I began my first year at UCR as a Pre-Business major.

While at UCR I worked as a Student Assistant with the CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center and founded a dance club named R’Beat. In 2014, I graduated with a B.S in Business Administration. Upon graduating, I wanted to continue at UCR and give back to a campus that gave me so much. I have since worked at the CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center, Harvest Shared Services, and Chicano Student Programs.

I am proud to be part of a UCR Familia at CSP. I find joy in working with amazing students and a great family with genuine hearts who provide support and encouragement every day.


Arlene Cano Matute, Assistant Director

Serving the campus since 2011
Phone: (951) 827-2215
Email: Arlene Cano Mutate


¡Bienvenidos! I have the great privilege of being the social and cultural program coordinator for Chicano StudentPrograms at UCR.

I was raised in Heber, CA, a small border town in the Imperial Valley, adjacent to Mexicali, México. I always knew que “Sí se puede,” thanks to my mother’s strength and love.

After high school, I attended UCR. In 2008, I graduated with departmental honors with bachelor’s degrees in both ethnic studies and political science: law and society.

After graduation from UCR, I worked as the coordinator for the Riverside County Library System, leading a county-wide Latino outreach campaign titled, Leer Es Triunfar (Reading is Succeeding) to raise awareness and use of library services among Latino residents in Riverside County.

Currently, I am happy to be back home with my UCR familia, and I look forward to a great year working with both our on and off-campus communities. I continue my passion for working with our students and community focusing on cultural empowerment, political awareness, community service, and higher education. Please stop by and visit!


Sonia Garcia Avelar, Program Coordinator

Serving the campus since 2018
Phone: (951) 827-3821
Email: Sonia Garcia Avelar


I was born in Tijuana, Mexico and grew up in the High Desert after my family migrated to the U.S. After high school I attended UC San Diego, and in 2017 I received a B.A. in Political Science (Public Law) and Ethnic Studies, with High Departmental Honors in the latter. 

As a DACAmented professional, my work centers a social justice approach in providing programming and resources to students of color,  mixed-status families, undocumented etc.I also have experience working in identity-based centers such as the UCSD Cross-Cultural Center and Raza Resource Centro. Most recently I served as the Academic Advisor for Educational Talent Search at  CSU San Bernardino.

My familia, mentors, and career have always taught me the importance of resilience and lifting others as you forge your path into the future.  I look forward to making this happen and working with students at UCR to give back to our comunidades in and out of higher education settings.