At age 45, Ellen went back to school to pursue a B.A. in Human Communication with an emphasis in Multicultural Conflict Resolution, at California State University Monterey Bay, and then earned an M.A. in Intercultural Relations, from Antioch University McGregor. During this time, she worked as the manager of a local government antipoverty program in California and was involved in community activism on behalf of immigrant and Latina/o rights. In 2016 she earned a PhD in Communication and a Certificate in Latina/o Studies from UMass. Her dissertation research was a family ethnography exploring the ethical, relational, and political implications of cultural assimilation in her own family of Puerto Rican descent. Ellen has taught many courses over the years in Critical Communication Studies as well as interdisciplinary service-learning.