PhD Students


Carla L. Mendiola

PhD Program

Educational Background

Ph.D. candidate, Southern Methodist University
Fulbright Canada Award research, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Radio-TV-Film studies, San Antonio College
M.A., U.S. History, University of Texas at Austin
B.A., History, Rice University
Study abroad, Catholic University of Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile

Dissertation Title

“From Border Crossers to Borderlanders: How Mestizaje/Metissage Along the North American Borderlands of Texas-Mexico and Maine-Canada Shaped Families, Communities, and Identities, 1880-1930”


I am researching mestizaje among Mexican American families along the South Texas-Mexico border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and métissage among Franco American families along the northern Maine-Canada border in the St. John River Valley. Mestizaje/Metissage are the Spanish and French terms, respectively, for biological and cultural mixing. I am exploring family, culture, and identity formation by examining intermarriage and language practices in the border cities of Madawaska, Maine and Hidalgo, Texas, but also recognize the transborder relationship of these communities with their international neighbors – Edmundston, New Brunswick and Reynosa, Tamaulipas. From 1880 to 1930, the United States, Mexico, and Canada passed stricter border enforcement and immigration policies. Understanding how these hybrid ethnic groups evolved in response to, and in spite of, this hardening border can help us better understand how national and state policy regularly influenced local activities and identities, and how local practices occasionally subverted and influenced broader policies and identity issues.

My research is also a personal journey because Sandy Leveck, my French-Canadian descent grandfather from northern Maine, traveled with the 1919 U.S. Cavalry to the South Texas border where he met and married Elodia McDonald, my Mexican American grandmother. I plan on including vignettes of individual family stories to bring the broader history to life. I am intrigued by how the personal, local lives of borderlanders are interrelated with national and international events.

Before attending SMU, my M.A. research focused on the legal history of unequal education of Mexican Americans in Texas. I subsequently worked in radio-TV-film productions of Hispanic advertising, films, documentaries, and multimedia museum and mural exhibits. I also taught college-level history classes and subjected my unsuspecting students to a variety of pedagogical techniques including online GIS map exercises, service-learning, and problem-based learning.

For fun, I enjoy dancing, going to movies, cheering on the San Antonio Spurs, and looking for the best chocolate dessert in the world.

Awards and Grants

Fulbright Canada Student Research Award (Fall 2011 – Spring 2012)
Government of Canada Doctoral Student Research Award (Fall 2011-Spring 2012)
Université Laval CEFAN grant (Culture d'expression française en Amérique du Nord) (May 2011)
THATCamp conference grant (The Humanities and Technology Camp) (April 2011)
Clements Center grants for research in Texas, Maine, and Canada (Summer 2009, 2010, 2011) 

Research Publicity

  • Fulbright and Government of Canada awards announcement, Spring 2011, SMU press release:
  • Levesque Association Newsletter, Winter 2010, bilingual French-English (pdf)
  • Université Laval Professor Emeritus Dean Louder blog, August 2009, written in French:

Teaching & Professional Experience

  • Southern Methodist University/SMU-in-Taos (August 2011)  Course taught: A Cultural History of New Mexico
  • DeGolyer Library, University Special Collections, Archival assistant (Summer 2009, 2010)
  • PBS-KERA “Texas Through Time – 50 Gateway Events” preproduction, Independent research consultant  (Summer and December 2008)
  • San Antonio College, Our Lady of the Lake University, University of Texas at San Antonio (Fall 2001-Summer 2007)  Courses taught: United States History before 1877 (including Mexican American Experience), United States History after 1877 (including Mexican American Experience), Mexican Americans in U.S. Society, Context of Mexican American Leadership

Presentations & Professional Development

  • Presentation at ACSUS (Association for Canadian Studies in the United States) Biennial conference, “North American Borderland Métissage: Maine-Canada Intermarriage & Language Practices, 1880-1930” (Ottawa, Canada, November 2011)
  • Participated in THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp)(Houston, April 2011). 
  • Presented at Texas State Historical Association conference, "GIS and Borderlands History: Representing People, Place, and Process using GIS Mapping Technology" (El Paso, March 2011)
  • Presented at CONNECT Quebec Studies colloquium, “French Intermarriage along the Northern Maine Border" (Burlington, VT, November 2010)
  •  Presented at Arte Público Press Recovering the Hispanic Literary Heritage National Conference, “Intermarriage Between Tejanos and Other Ethnic Groups in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1900-1930”  (Houston, October 2008)
  • CONNECT - Engaging new Canadianists for American higher education: In 2010, accepted by CONNECT program to present at their Quebec Studies colloquium (above), attend the American Council for Québec Studies (ACQS) biennial conference (Burlington, VT), and attend a Canada Studies seminar (Ottawa, Canada)

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Faculty Institutes and Workshops

Workshop: “Mammoth Cave: People, Place & History” (Mammoth Cave, KY, 2006)
Workshop: “Mounds, Earthworks & Pre-history of Ohio Valley” (Columbus, OH, 2006)
Institute: “Rethinking America from a Global Perspective” (Library of Congress, 2005)
Workshop: “Remember the Alamo” (San Antonio, TX, 2005)
Workshop: “Working the Woods” (Mars Hill College, NC, 2005)
Institute:“Border Crossings: Southwestern Studies”  (San Marcos, TX, 2002)

On-campus activities and memberships at SMU

  • Graduate Women’s Organization (Spring 2008 to present)
  • SMU Hispanic Initiative Panel of administrators, faculty and students (Fall 2008 to present)
  • College Hispanic American Students organization (Fall 2010 to present)
  • Dallas Mexican American Historical League (DMAHL), Mexican American history exhibit at the Texas State Fair, volunteer contact (Fall 2008, Fall 2010)
  • Organized history graduate student workshops on salary negotiation, Zotero bibliographic software, women in academia, public history, GIS mapping
  • Eleven teaching, curriculum development, and community grants received at San Antonio College (2002-2007)
  • Membership in state, regional, and international professional organizations

Publications, Projects

  • San Antonio College Hispanic Heritage Multimedia Mural Exhibit: A 14 panel, multimedia, permanent exhibit, consisting of paint, mosaic, audio, and handout elements, Fall 2003-Fall 2005
  • International Connections of the Alamo and San Antonio Missions: Researched and designed Flash-based interactive curriculum materials for use on the web

Last updated 10/11