After graduating from FSU with a B.A. in History, Dr. Ruiz attended Stanford University where she researched women's unions in California and labor activism, with her dissertation leading to the publication of her first book, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930–1950. Her work mainly focuses on Chicano/Latino studies and she is among the recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal awarded by the White House. Over her lengthy career, she has written, edited and co-edited more than a dozen books and authored over sixty articles. She was a 2015 National Women's History Month honoree and served as President of the American Historical Association, the Pacific Coast branch of the AHA, the American Studies Association, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the Organization of American Historians. She is also devoted to mentorship and has helped to found projects that promote study in under-researched areas and community engagement. She has worked as a professor of History at the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Irvine, Arizona State University, and is currently a scholar-in-residence at Occidential College in Los Angeles.