University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

Ford Foundation Funds Grad Student

UC Riverside Graduate Student Lands Ford Foundation Fellowship

Sergio Garza’s studies in anthropology include a 3,000-year-old game called, “Ulama”

(July 29, 2005)

Sergio GarzaEnlarge

Sergio Garza

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Sergio Garza, a graduate student in anthropology at UC Riverside, has been selected as a three-year predoctoral Ford Foundation Diversity Fellow for 2005, which means he will have $17,000 per year to support his graduate studies starting in September, up to $70,000 over the course of several years.

The program, administered by the National Research Council of the National Academies, is considered quite a prize because it covers all possible expenses.

“Last year, such fellowships were given out to about 60 people in the nation from a pool of 1,100 applicants, so it’s a very competitive fellowship,” said Tom Patterson, chair of UCR’s Department of Anthropology. “I’ve been teaching for more years than I care to think about and I’ve had only one other student land one of these Ford Foundation grants.”

The Diversity Fellowships are intended to make sure more underrepresented minorities are able to pursue degrees that allow them to become university professors.

That is the goal of Garza, 35, who lives in Los Angeles and commutes regularly to Riverside. He did his undergraduate work at California State University, Los Angeles and is now pursing his doctorate in anthropology at UC Riverside, with faculty advisor Wendy Ashmore.

After this summer's field work in Northern Mexico, he will return to UCR in the Fall to continue two different projects. One is related to how caves were used in Guatemala between 300 BC and 300 AD. The other project is the study of an ancient Aztec game called “Ulama” which is still played today in certain remote villages. It involves a heavy rubber ball and the players use their hips to manipulate the ball, rather than their hands.

“It’s quite dangerous,” said Garza, who has actually tried his hand, or hip, at the game. “It takes years to be good at it,” he said. “They just laugh at me.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links