the people behind

Alfredo Corchado

Alfredo Corchado is Mexico City bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News and author of Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country's Descent Into Darkness. He served as a professional mentor to the Heart of Mexico team. Corchado is a noted expert on immigration, drug violence, and foreign policy between the U.S. and Mexico. Over the years, Corchado has exposed government corruption and the reach of Mexican drug traffickers into U.S. communities. He has described the perils that journalists face and the disturbing result: an increasingly silent Mexican press. Born in Durango, Mexico, Corchado grew up in California and Texas. He worked as a farm worker alongside his parents, who were members of the United Farm Workers, the union led by Cesar Chavez. As a reporter for U.S. newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, he has written about the plight of immigrants and their perilous journey to the United States. Corchado is a 1984 graduate of El Paso Community College, a 1987 graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, and a supporter and frequent presenter at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference at the University of North Texas. He currently resides in Mexico City, but calls the border home. A 2009 Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a 2010 Rockefeller Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Scholar, Corchado won the Maria Moors Cabot award from Columbia Journalism School in 2007 for extraordinary bravery and enterprise. In 2010 he was awarded Colby College’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism.

Belem Ortíz

Belem studies communications at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. She began as a writer in the Heart of Mexico 2013 project ("Dove: the patron saint of dogs") and has helped support the project since. She has worked with classmates on small projects, reports, short films and editing. She is interested in learning more about non-verbal forms of communication. The Heart of Mexico reminds her we all have the same human value, to never stop learning and we can always offer something worthwhile to others. She wants to use journalism to continue this work.

Danielle Garcia

Danielle Garcia is a senior print journalism major at the University of North Texas with plans to graduate in December of 2015. Writing has long been an interest of hers. When she was around the age of nine her father helped her put together a website so she could post stories for other girls with similar interests. Raised in the center of Dallas, she appreciates the urban life... where you will find diverse people and culture. With a minor in Spanish, Danielle hopes to become fluent in the language, and by participating as a writer for the 2015 Heart of Mexico project she got plenty of practice. After graduation she hopes to travel around the world, broadening her horizons. Danielle also hopes to further her education in possibly art, history, or international studies after receiving her bachelor’s degree.

Dianne Solis

Dianne Solis, a senior scribe at the Dallas Morning News, served as our Heart of Mexico writing coach. Throughout her career, she’s written about people crossing borders, from tales of refugees from Iraq, to children from Honduras seeking asylum in the U.S., to Mexicans tangled in the complex web of U.S. immigration laws. Her passion? Finding the humanity in the story.She holds degrees from Northwestern and California State University, Fresno, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Mexico is familiar geography as she lived there as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Estela Guzmán Ayala

Estela Guzman Ayala is a sociologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has worked with migrants for more than 25 years. In Oaxaca she founded the state office of the National Program for Agricultural Workers, in which for 8 years she provided support to families of migrants working in northwestern Mexico and in California. In Chicago, as a consul, she founded the Representation of the Paisano Program—an office responsible for attending to the rights and obligations of the Mexican community abroad. After returning to Mexico, Guzmán founded, in the state of Yucatan, the first office dedicated to Migrants’ Attention and International Affairs. She is currently an independent consultant focused on the research and promotion of the rights of migrants and their families. For most of her professional life, migration and migrants have been the focus of both her work and heart.

Fernando Cruz

Fernando is in his final semester of studying at UAEM with a major in communication. He is deeply interested in the fields of education and science. At UAEM he has participated in cooperative identity projects, served in the career [communication] coordination and he is currently working with Lenin Martell in a variety of projects. Next year he will begin his master’s degree. For Fernando, Heart of Mexico is a project that allows students and academics meet in a closely mode, generating a new kind of impart knowledge.

Hugo Andrade

Hugo Andrade is a professor in English in the Faculty of Languages in the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. He began teaching English as a foreign language at 18, a career that has lasted for more than 24 years. He specializes in applied linguistics, especially reading comprehension, language proficiency, and language teaching and evaluation. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the Autonomous National University of Mexico. He participated in Heart of Mexico as a translation consultant. Andrade has experience in strategic planning worked in administration for eight years at UAEM before taking a position as a researcher and professor in the Faculty of Languages. He loves movies and American football, and is studying photography

Kael Alford

Kael Alford photographs issues of culture, politics, civilian life affected by violent conflict as well as the human relationship to the environ-ment. Alford develops long-term projects funded by grants and non-profits, and she takes assignments from editorial clients in the U.S. and Europe. Her work finds a home in both the journalism and fine art worlds. Her work is represented by Panos Pictures in London.
She is the author of two photography books: Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq (Chelsea Green, 2005) and Bottom of da Boot: Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast (Fall Line Press 2012).
Kael was a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University, a Knight Luce Fellow for Reporting on Global Religion, and a recipient of the Michael P. Smith award. She currently teaches in the Art and Journalism divisions at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Karla Serrano

Karla is a student of communication at the UAEM. She has worked as an editor of articles for One Global Economy and she also collaborates in research projects with Lenin Martell. The Heart of Mexico project for her goes beyond a cultural exchange as it meant hard work, union and finding a family in the people that surrounded her. In her opinion, this represents what Mexico: so great that it receives anyone who wants to come, just like our own human heart, which pumps blood and makes us feel alive. Heart of Mexico lets go all those who seek the American Dream and hope to give our country an honorable place: it is our migrants who are part of the national blood that runs through every vein and every place of our Mexico.

Lenin Martell

Lenin Martell teaches fulltime at the School of Political and Social Sciences in the University of the State of Mexico. He graduated in Mass Communication studies from Boston University. He has co-authored several academic books and essays on media and cultural studies. Prior to that, he worked as a bilingual education editor for several publishers in the United States. Martell currently writes for the “Zócalo” media magazine. He appears regularly as a media and public affairs commentator on radio and television throughout Latin America. Martell lives in Mexico City and races in open-water-swim marathons.

Mason Callejas

Mason Callejas holds dual bachelor’s degrees in History and Photojournalism from the University of North Texas. He has contributed to the Denton Record Chronicle and worked as an assistant photo editor at the Hatch Visuals photo agency. With a historical concentration in Colonialism and Latin-America, Mason has an advanced understanding of the unique and troubled past that has molded the Americas. While studying, he developed a tremendous passion for the rich culture of his extended family and ancestors and is now motivated to use his visual storytelling abilities to uplift and give voice to the often-marginalized people of Latin America. This eagerness made him a perfect fit as a videographer for the 2015 Heart of Mexico project which he knows will not be his last venture into Latin America.

Morty Ortega

G. Morty Ortega is a narrative and visual journalist with a Masters in Journalism from UNT who has won awards for his coverage of stories ranging from immigration to environmental issues. He works as the Communications Director for The Alexia Foundation, an organization devoted to funding photographers who push for change with their images. He’s also a staff member of Foundry Photojournalism Workshops, a grassroots organization that strives to bring photojournalism education to all corners of the developing world. Ortega has lived and traveled in his native Chile and Mexico and covered stories from Guatemala to Myanmar. He worked on the inaugural Heart of Mexico project in 2013, serving as web designer, visuals and content editor, and translator.

Samantha Guzman

Samantha Guzman began her work with the Heart of Mexico project as a student in Tenancingo, Mexico. In 2014 she served as project assistant and still photography instructor for the project. This year she was a professional mentor and helped the video and photo students shape their stories. Sam’s work from Heart of Mexico 2013, “The Protection of Cristo Rey,” won multiple awards including 1st place in National Press Photographers Student Quarterly Multimedia Contest. She received her M.A. in journalism from UNT in May 2014. She is currently the photo editor for and is based in Dallas, Texas, where she also does freelance video and photo work. She holds Mexico, its people and this project close to her heart. She is also always the first and last person on the dance floor.

Thorne Anderson

Thorne Anderson is Associate Professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. He is a specialist in photojournalism, visual communication, and multimedia storytelling. He has worked internationally as a freelance photojournalist for numerous publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and Stern magazines. He is a co-author/photographer of Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq. His work was recently shown in the exhibit “Eye Level in Iraq” at the M. H. de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco. He believes it is important for photographers to challenge themselves and their audiences, to immerse themselves in the lives of their subjects, to see beyond the obvious, to extract the extraordinary from the mundane, and to reveal the sacred in the profane. He will also play his guitar anywhere you let him.

Tyler Cleveland

Tyler Cleveland completed his undergraduate coursework with the Heart of Mexico 2015 program. His passion for telling stories of migrants and minorities began at San Antonio College, where he shadowed mentors at the San Antonio Express-News. After transferring to the University of North Texas Tyler served as photo-editor for both The North Texas Daily and the Hatch Visuals photo agency. Tyler participated in the Heart of Mexico Project as a videographer. Now, Tyler hopes to focus on themes of hope, faith and building community awareness through narrative non-fiction writing and multimedia storytelling.

Anjulie Van Sickle

Anjulie Van Sickle is studying to earn her undergraduate degree in news writing at the University of North Texas. While in Mexico, she not only fell in love with the bright red flamboyant trees of the Yucatan, but also with its hospitable people. Narrative writing and drinking steaming cups of coffee are amongst her passions. Back home in Denton she works as a features writer for the award-winning student newspaper the North Texas Daily. Her other passions include working in student housing and dedicating her life mentoring fellow college students. Her dream is to one day live abroad giving a voice to the voiceless.

Cameron Coates

Cameron Coates, 27, had his first experience in multimedia storytelling while working as a videographer on the 2015 Heart of Mexico project in Tunkas, Mexico and looks forward to honing this newly found craft for years to come. Writing was initially his focus in journalism before finding comfort behind the lens and with all things multimedia. With the belief that non-fiction storytelling is a means of illuminating the human condition, he feels journalism is a vessel for truth and aims to harbor its safe passage. Cameron will be graduating from the University of North Texas in December 2015 with degrees in Journalism and Integrative Studies.

David Cortinas Fernández

David studies communication at the Autonomous University of Coahuila. He is passionate about music and soccer, and newly enamored with narrative journalism
The Heart of Mexico project seeded a bigger love for his country, and gave him a fascination for Mayan culture. After completion of a master of journalism degree David plans to work to give voice to those who are voiceless.
“The journalist must communicate dreams, ideas and thoughts, and its our duty to keep dreaming.”

Drew Gaines

Drew Gaines returned to the Heart of Mexico project in 2015 for his second year as a videographer. After participating in the project in 2014 and graduating from the University of North Texas’ Mayborn School of Journalism the same year Drew was invited to return to the project as an advisor and “Journalist in Residence.” He gladly brought his passion for visual storytelling to the Yucatan where he reported on the issues surrounding domestic migration within the peninsula. His intrigue of the languages, cultures and people of Latin America fuel his aspirations to keep taking his craft south of the border in pursuit of compelling stories.

Everth Temahuaya

Everth is in his 9th semester of his Languages Bachelor’s Degree at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. His passion for language started during his childhood when he learned that there was more than one way to express himself. The Heart of Mexico project allowed him to use his passion as a translator to hear and tell stories about people from his country. As a result, his perspective toward those countrymen was forever changed. Evereth also works professionally as an interpreter and translator. His goal is to learn yet another language so than he can further provide his two-year-old daughter with a better life.

Greta Díaz

Greta Díaz holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. Greta participated in the 2014 Heart of Mexico project as a photographer and co-translator of “More than a Midwife” and “Catching the wind.” In 2015 she returned and worked as a videographer, writer and assistant. Great wants to continue to work in Mexico and hopes that as a photojournalist she can positively influence the future of her country. Inspired by her experiences in the program she hopes to further examine midwives in Mexico and produce a photo documentary about their practices. Greta believes that the Heart of Mexico project has changed her vision of country, giving her hope and making her proud of her countrymen.

Jeff Woo

Jeff Woo is a senior photojournalism major at the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism. In 2015 Jeff returned to the Heart of Mexico project to again work as a videographer. He wanted to return to Mexico because he loves how the people are always friendly and always have fun. This second time around, he enjoyed flying his quad-copter to provide not only beautiful arial footage for his own story but also for other stories. Jeff greatly enjoyed developing a deeper understanding of migration and becoming a better journalist.

Kalli Mckee

Kalli McKee is a senior Journalism major at the University of North Texas focusing on sports photography. Kalli has been interested in taking photos most of her life and developed a passion for sports journalism while in high school as the lead sports photographer for the yearbook. She has done work for sports photography companies based out of Houston, and on assignment for The North Texas Daily. Her ultimate goal upon graduation is to work as a either a professional photographer for major league sports organizations or to open her own photography business catering to little league or club sports. Kalli participated in the 2015 Heart of Mexico project as a videographer where she exhibited her passion for sports while investigating the influence of migration on the local pastime of baseball in the Yucatan.

Laura Jarriel

Laura Jarriel is a photojournalist studying at the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism with intentions to graduate in the fall of 2015. Laura has experience working in broadcast news as a reporter for the university television news station at UNT, and is an executive member of the Hatch Visuals student-run photo agency. In 2015 Laura contributed to the Heart of Mexico project as the program’s sole still photographer covering several stories about migration in Yucatan. After graduation Laura hopes to find work as a multimedia journalist, domestically or abroad, when she hopes her passion for documentary work and aspirations to travel will allow her to explore and report on the lives and cultures of others.

Mariana Villareal

Mariana Villarreal Gaspar is a student of Communication career at the Autonomous State University of Mexico. Currently she is working in the Writing Center at her university, and also in the production of educative contents in Krismar editorial. She is certain that her passion for the foreign languages English and French led her to know other cultures. As a translator, she found her true vocation. She is truly convinced that these kinds of projects can contribute in great measure to Mexican journalism work.

Mely Durán

Mely Durán studies Communication at Anahuac Mayab University in Merida, Yu-catan. She currently works part-time for a local newspaper producing multimedia reports. Mely’s passion for photojournalism and social documentary, as well as her understanding of life in the Yucatan peninsula, made her an ideal participant in the 2015 Heart of Mexico project. Thanks to her experiences while in the program she realized the presence of another Yucatan, a land much different from the one she was familiar with. As a member of the local Scout Movement Mely helps plan projects to improve her community, and ultimately the world, because she believes that when many people do little things they can change the world. Upon graduation Mely is eager to continue work covering the issues of migration.

Pedro Lewin Fischer

Pedro Lewin-Fischer is a linguist and an anthropologist, who studied in Mexico City and UC Berkley, CA. While living in Oaxaca, he worked in the Department of Popular Cultures, dedicated to studying the native languages and promoting the creation of indigenous organizations. He has been a Research Professor at the National Institute of Anthropology and History for the last 22 years. He lived in Chicago, supporting and promoting the organization of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. When he returned to Mexico, he settled in Yucatan, where he has lived and worked for the past 15 years. During that time he has devoted himself to study domestic and international migration issues. He has co-edited several books and written multiple articles on two topics that fascinate him: sociolinguistics of identities and organization of migrants. He is convinced that social justice is inseparable of the full exercise of cultural diversity, both among migrants and non-migrants, inside and outside of the country.

Tere Alvarado

Teresita Alvarado is an undergraduate student in Bachelor of communication at UAEM where besides of being a research assistant, she is continuously involved in cultural promotion projects, like the International Book Fair of the State of Mexico. With an optimistic and dreamer spirit, she firmly believes in her country’s potential and in the future she wishes to work as a cultural manager. The project of Heart of Mexico has provided her the opportunity to deepen into the difficult reality of Mexican society, renewing her encouragement to fight for a better future not only for those who belong to this nation, but for al the ones that are part of this great global community.

Trevor Trigg

Trevor Trigg is a sports journalist specializing in writing and photography. He is a spring 2015 graduate from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism. Trevor joined the Heart of Mexico project hoping to expand his horizons as a feature writer while simultaneously finishing his undergraduate course work. He spent his days in Mexico wandering the sun-drenched streets on foot and in the back of open-bed trucks searching for a story about migration that would ultimately combine his passion for narrative nonfiction and sports journalism. He hopes to continue work as a sports journalist.