Teresa “Terry” Leyba-Ruiz

Dr. Teresa Leyba-Ruiz is the 8th President of Glendale Community College. She was born and raised in South Phoenix.

Dr. Teresa Leyba-Ruiz, ca. 2020.
Image from: https://thevoicegcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/copyy222-900×672.jpg

Dr. Teresa “Terry” Leyba-Ruiz was born in Phoenix, Arizona, at 23rd Avenue and Dobbins in the southside of Phoenix. Her father owned about four acres of land. Leyba-Ruiz has lived here for over 50 years, in the same area as she did growing up among the citrus trees at the base of the South Mountains.

As a young girl, Terry’s mother relocated the family to a neighborhood in North Scottsdale. It was a difficult transition. Terry faced discrimination, as kids called her names she had not heard before. Her mother was ignored or shut out by neighbors. Not long after, the family chose to move back to their three acres in South Phoenix. For most of her childhood, Terry attended Greenfield Elementary in the Roosevelt School District.

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Though attending college was a must for Terry’s family, she was nonetheless a first-generation college student. Her father in particular supported her school work, always encouraging her to do her best and turn in quality work. He always seemed to know when she wasn’t giving it her all, and sometimes made her start her assignments all over from scratch.

When Teri was 23 years old, she became a student teacher at South Mountain High School. One day, a male co-worker approached her and asked, “Why aren’t you at home having babies?” This was an eye opener for Terry. She used his discriminatory challenge as fuel, working even harder to counter any assumptions against Latina women.

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Since then, Leyba-Ruiz has risen in the ranks of higher education, commanding respect and support in and around our South Phoenix Community. She started by returning to Greenfield to teach Math, and then moved to South Mountain High School Later, Leyba-Ruiz earned her doctorate at Arizona State University. She began teaching Math at South Mountain Community College, where she quickly advanced into leadership roles. She became the advisor to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, also known as SHPE. It was in this position that she began to consider ambitions to be a college president. It didn’t take long. In 2018, Dr. Leyba-Ruiz became the president of Glendale Community College. In many ways Dr. Leyba-Ruiz is a role model, showing men and women in the Mexican-American community that if she can do it, so can they.


Through her work in higher education, Dr. Leyba-Ruiz has become a part of local and national Mexican-American history. She shows us that just an average South Phoenix kid can become a powerful Latina woman, making a difference within our community.

Works Cited

  • Dr. Teresa Lebya Ruiz.mp4. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2021.
  • Cadava, Geraldo L. “Arizona: Post-Chicano Movement Era.” The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2021, latinoamerican2.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1481646. Accessed 4 May 2021. 
  • Zamora Lausch, R. Joyce, and Cordelia Chávez Candelaria. “Latina Feminism.” The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2021, latinoamerican2.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1329735. Accessed 4 May 2021. 
  • Cadava, Geraldo L. “Arizona: Post-Gadsden and Early Territorial Period.” The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2021, latinoamerican2.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1481641. Accessed 4 May 2021. 
  • “Latino Population in Arizona by County, 2010.” The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2021, latinoamerican2.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1597308. Accessed 4 May 2021.

NarratorTeresa “Teri” Leyba-Ruiz 
Date of Birth
Place of Origin South Phoenix, Arizona
Place of ResidenceSouth Phoenix, Arizona
Years Active in South Phoenix
OccupationPresident, Glendale Community College
Mathematics Faculty, South Mountain Community College (formerly)
Interview DateFebruary 24, 2020
LocationSouth Mountain Community Library
Interviewed ByStudent Researcher: Ashley (Last name not provided)
Faculty Researcher: Dr. Travis May
Story Written ByStudent Writers: Pedro Torres, Mikaela Corona, Bryan Nolasco, Jhoana Calvo Gomez
Interview Metadata