Research Agenda

My research agenda comprises a diverse group of topics. They range from Mexican women journalists' writings from the turn of the twentieth century, cultural rhetorics, curriculum development at the college and public school level, and ways in which writing across the curriculum can enhance learning and alter school environments. This variety of research interests reflects the positions I have held and volunteer projects I have completed throughout my career. I have been a public school teacher, Co-director with the West Texas Writing Project, a volunteer with many non-profit organizations, a university and community college instructor, a Department of Homeland Security research fellow, and now an instructor at a technical college. In today's market of constant flux, this diverse field of research and knowledge serves as an asset to me and any school or organization to which I belong. It represents my ability to adapt and excel in different situations within the education field.

Mexican Women Journalists

Other research focuses on the investigations into undiscovered voices in rhetorical history, which have been overlooked by many scholars from various disciplines. I have focused on Mexican women journalists from the turn of the twentieth century. My dissertation, Claiming the Discursive Self: The Rhetoric of Mexican Women Journalists, 1876-1924, is among the first rhetorical histories focusing solely on Mexican women and forwards the concept that these women were using forms of mestiza rhetoric to appeal to their audience. There were many women journalists from which to choose, yet I selected the three female journalists and one group of women who had the greatest impact on the events of the time, Laureana Wright de Kleinhans (1846-1896), Hermila Galindo (1896 – 1954), Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza (1876-1942), and a group of women that called themselves las mujeres de Zitácuaro (1900).

My dissertation’s first chapter, now a publication in a 2009 Special Edition of Rhetoric, Writing and Latinidad in College English, develops and extends the definition of mestiza rhetoric. I claim mestiza rhetoric is a discourse that emerges from a cultural background that recognizes its multiple subjectivities, adapts ideas and logics from various cultures, and “creates a symbolic space beyond the mere coming together of two halves” (Baca 5). Mestiza discourse can represent this symbolic space by calling on its indigenous cultural symbols, but my perception of mestiza rhetoric does not necessarily depend upon the explicit discursive recognition of indigenous or cultural roots. It results in divergent, subversive texts by representing an intertextuality of cultures and ideas while resisting assimilation to a linear articulation of logic. Women such as Wright de Kleinhans and Gutiérrez de Mendoza fall under the idea of mestiza rhetoric because their writings were on the cusp of a historical era in Mexico whose society was struggling to articulate a true identity, one that sought not to be dominated by European or indigenous influences, but one that would reflect the plurality of their cultures.

Early in 2010, I was contacted by Jennifer Speed, a history professor in Latin American Studies at St. Mary’s University, to write a chapter on Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza for an edited collection on Mexican and Texas women revolutionaries titled Revolutionary Women: Portraits and Essays, forthcoming in 2011. The book will be released in collaboration with a museum exhibition by Kathy Sosa, a Latina artist also interested in Mexican and Texas women revolutionaries. This collection of essays and exhibits challenges the perspective of what women revolutionaries did and accomplished during various wars in Texas and Mexico.

Writing across the Curriculum

My interest in Writing Across the Curriculum stems from my current position as technical writing instructor for the Information Security Systems (ISS) and Electrical Engineering Technologies (EET) at Western Technical College. For many years, WTC has been thriving in the El Paso community and has produced strong job candidates in the areas of Information Security Systems, Electrical Engineering Technologies, Massage Therapy, Health Information Technology, and much more. The school is certified by the accrediting body of Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), but they want to produce students of greater caliber to meet the demands of the Fortune 500 companies around the area, such as Lockheed Martin, Newtec, and Boeing. I worked closely with the Director of ISS and EET Department to present a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) proposal that would enhance the learning of all students at WTC. I am in the process of implementing this proposal with various departments on campus. Some scholars who have shaped my thinking in this area are Kathleen Blake Yancey, David Bazerman, and James Kinneavy.

Instructional Leadership and Management

Along with teaching technical writing, I am enrolled in the Principal Alternative Certification course from Region 19 . This course prepares students for the Mid-level Management Certification in Instructional Leadership and Management at the school district level. For this course, I have been conducting classroom observations while learning to identify student achievement; differentiation or the use of variety of instructional techniques to reach students with different learning styles; and also the use of formative and summative assessment. I am also learning about instructional leadership and creating a cohesive environment for learning. Studying for and ultimately receiving my certification will only make me a stronger teacher at any level and a possible future administrator in the schools. This program has furthered my interest in the importance of curriculum development and in the implementation of writing instruction across the curriculum.

Department of Homeland Security Education Needs Assessment

From June 2009 - August 2010, I was a research scholar with the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at The University of Texas at El Paso. I conducted an extensive Education Needs Assessment of the Department of Homeland Security in which over 5,000 surveys were collected. This Education Needs Assessment asked DHS employees from Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration Citizenship Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration Services what they felt would be most important for a homeland security degree. Across the board, survey respondents indicated that they want to know more about homeland security and its history. They also want to learn more about terrorism and its cause.

Most interestingly, respondents also consistently ranked English Composition and Technical Writing in the top 5 out of 52 courses that are most important in a homeland security education program. The report that resulted from this study, Homeland Security Education Needs Assessment (Award Number: 2008-ST-061-BS0001) has helped various departments and centers around the country align their curriculum for greater relevancy to address the customer’s needs, which was the main goal and mission of this study. Some of the theorists that have influenced me in this area of study are Pelfry & Pelfry and Bellavita.

Border Patrol agents completing the Education Needs Assessment at morning muster.

Presenting at V Coloquio Internacional de Historia de Mujeres y Género en México - Oaxaca, Mexico - Spring 2010