I am committed to fostering more inclusive environments for students, faculty and staff in higher education. Campus climates can and should evolve to meet the needs of every individual who participates in campus activities. I maintain that attention to climate and inclusion is not only one of the foundational responsibilities of educators but also an ethical imperative. In what follows, I outline how my commitments to climate and inclusion impact my research, teaching, and service, as well as how my lived realities have shaped my perspective on these issues.
My research objective is to disrupt established discourses. In my book, Transforming Family, the cultural production that makes up my corpus of study raises questions related to the disenfranchisement of non-normative, non-nuclear families and communities. I reimagine the kinship structures depicted in the literary work of migrants to undermine the discursive processes that have pathologized certain family units. Through my work, I use transnational feminist analysis and postcolonial theories to offer alternate methods for conceiving of family, where family is rooted in affect and support rather than biology. DEI work related to family rights is of growing importance in both this country and globally — recent national #FamiliesBelongTogether protests highlighted the stakes of asking questions about the rights of the family. Re-centering the family in our social and political debates has revolutionary potential for individuals who have become separated from their loved ones.
As an instructor, I argue it is crucial that I bring an eye for diversity to my syllabi and that my teaching methods reflect best practices for fostering an inclusive learning environment.
I offer courses that challenge students to rethink their own cultural perspectives and biases. In other words, I consistently ask students to step outside of their comfort zones, which requires them to experiment with (and, at times, grapple with) failure in the classroom. In my view, the first step in this process involves strategically designing syllabi. During the spring term of 2021, I taught INTS 407: Diversity in a Globalized World — “Global Migration on the Silver Screen” at Texas A&M. In this course, students examined both the root causes and impacts of migration across the globe. Together, my students and I delved into topics like climate migration, neoliberal economic policy, and the Syrian Revolution. In other words, we discussed some of the systemic underpinnings of questions related to global migration, a force that greatly contributes to the diversification of global populations. Students viewed documentaries and analyzed not only the stories packaged within films but also the pieces of the story that were missing from them. They put together a website to showcase their work: www.migrationonthesilverscreen.com
In addition to designing impactful syllabi, I consistently work to develop inclusive teaching practices. I begin by ensuring my students have equitable and inclusive access to course materials. Fostering inclusive classroom climates is a constant process and I believe I must actively search for learning opportunities to inch closer to that goal. For example, teaching in the midst of a global pandemic allowed me to learn about technological strategies for creating more equitable access to my pedagogical materials. Furthermore, when challenging students to engage sensitive material during class time, I organize my lesson plans around a series of questions rather than conclusions.
I have developed a service record that reflects my commitment to climate and inclusion in the university setting. The majority of my service efforts are grassroots initiatives. For example, I serve as a mentor for graduate students across our profession who need an outlet for asking questions that may seem taboo in their academic units. I believe in partnerships between universities and local communities and am currently working on various initiatives to create additional contact points between Texas A&M University and the greater Brazos Valley community. I also consistently participate in diversity-related trainings to identify and close gaps between professional best practices and my own work. The full breadth of my service work is accessible on my professional CV.
Perspective and Standpoint
In keeping with feminist scholars who paved this path before me, I believe it is essential to reflect on my perspective and standpoint as I engage in climate and inclusion work. My lived realities as the daughter of a Latin American immigrant and heritage Spanish speaker inform my research agenda, my pedagogical aims, and my desires to establish equitable learning environments while maintaining a rigorous classroom experience.
We acknowledge that Texas A&M University (College Station) is situated on the land of multiple Native nations, past and present. These original homelands are the territory of Indigenous peoples who were largely dispossessed and removed. We specifically acknowledge the traditional stewardship of this land by the Tonkawa, Tawakoni, Hueco, Sana, Wichita, and Coahuiltecan peoples. We pledge to support and advocate for the histories, cultures, languages, and territorial rights of historic Indigenous peoples of Texas and the Indigenous people that live here now. This statement affirms continuous Indigenous presence and rights, acknowledges the ongoing effects of settler colonization, and supports Indigenous struggles for political, legal, and cultural sovereignty.