Faculty Members Awarded During Panel Discussion Centering on Women of Color in Academia

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Hosted by Cal State San Bernardino’s Women of Color in Academia, the May 11 event, “A Seat at the Table: Intersectionality in Higher Education,” featured a panel discussion focusing on women of color in higher education and two surprise faculty awards.

The surprise awards were given to Jean Peacock and Eri Yasuhara, the two founders of CSUSB’s University Faculty Mentoring Network, for their service and mentorship.

“This means so much,” said Peacock, professor emerita of psychology, who was moved to tears when the announcement was made. “What is so important to me is that I’m available to you, my fellow sisters, my fellow brothers. It’s so important for us to care for each other … I feel that my purpose has been to be available and to help others, and I feel very strongly about that. It’s also very nice to be recognized.”

“It’s been the greatest blessing of my life to be able to end my active career helping people,” said Yasuhara, dean emerita of the College of Arts and Letters and professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures. “I am overwhelmed. Thank you so very much.”

The event also featured a dynamic panel of CSUSB faculty members, which was moderated by history assistant professor Yvette Saavedra. The participants were: Claudia Davis, associate professor of nursing; Kathryn Ervin, professor of theatre arts; Mary Texeira, professor of sociology; Elsa Valdez, professor of sociology and ethnic studies minor director; and Yasuhara.

The panelists talked about their experiences in the academic field as women of color and how they have overcome challenges throughout their careers.

“Women of color typically have to work three times harder than, say, white males,” said Valdez, who referenced a handout she gave to the audience that highlighted the gender wage gap for women of color. “Just because we are women, we should not get paid less than men … not just at the higher education level, but in all occupations.”

“I think any person of color struggles to get to where they are professionally, even more in a professional degree or being a professor at a university,” said Fernando Villalpando, CSUSB doctoral student in educational leadership and Educational Opportunity Program counselor, who attended the event. “Anything I can do to be supportive and learn more is great, and what better way to learn from such a wonderful group of women, and to learn of their challenges.”

The panelists also offered advice to the audience and talked about the emotional support they have had to give to students of color.

“I was just so thrilled to be able to lead students in the right direction,” said Texeira. “Many of our students don’t have college knowledge when they come here because they are, many times, the first person in their families to go to college. So, you have to start at the beginning with them, and I didn’t mind that all, because somebody did that for me.”

“Sometimes we go through our struggles,” acknowledged Davis, “but we have to find what it is within us to push through and never, ever give up.”

CSUSB’s Women of Color in Academia was established in fall 2016 by faculty members who are women of color. The leadership team consists of Yvette Saavedra, assistant professor of history; Liliana Conlisk Gallegos, assistant professor of communication studies; Erica Lizano, assistant professor of social work; Isabel Huacuja Alonso, assistant professor of history; and Angie Otiniano Verissimo, assistant professor of health science.

“Our primary mission is to converge teaching, research and social action as well as to create a space in which women of color faculty can discuss these aspects of their professional careers through an intersectional perspective,” said the Women of Color in Academia team. “We acknowledge that our professional experiences are shaped by being women of color in academia and we strive to provide women of color faculty with opportunities for networking, mentoring, collaboration and self-care.”

“A Seat at the Table: Intersectionality in Higher Education” was sponsored by CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee. To learn more, visit the University Diversity Committee website.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit inside.csusb.edu.

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