Jessica Ceeko

Ph.D. candidate, Department of History


Jessica’s research focuses on race, ethnicity, gender and class, and how these threads of tension are woven into the design of urban spaces. In particular, her dissertation examines how politics and policies, economics, infrastructure, and ethno-racial conflict inform the decisions and motives of city leaders in Gilded Age San Antonio. This turn of the 20th-century history foreshadows the course that led to the deplorable poverty of the city’s Mexican Westside, which shocked the nation in the 1968 documentary “Hunger in America.” Jessica’s other projects on San Antonio have covered topics such as vice and the control of urban space, ideology and municipal policy and the city’s relationship with the Mexican Revolution. In doing so, she has explored themes related to women, gender, immigration, power and legal rhetoric. 


Before coming to SMU, Jessica earned her B.A. at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and an M.A. in history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. The grandchild of Mexican immigrants who settled in San Antonio, she is the first in her family to graduate from college. Devoted to empowering students like herself, her post-Ph.D. goal is to gain tenure with a Hispanic-serving institution in South Texas. Outside of academia, she is passionately dedicated to fostering and finding homes for kittens, having helped save more than 50 kittens since 2022.