Scholar Stories: Dra. Alma Itzé Flores

How do you use writing or art in your life?

As an immigrant and ESL student, writing for me was a way to make meaning of my life. When I moved to the U.S. I started journaling.  It was my escape and a way to release all the feelings I was experiencing as a newcomer to this country.  Now as a professor, writing is still a form of release for me, but also something I struggle with.  It’s a very personal process for me.  I hope that through my writing I inspire others to think more deeply about the world we live in and enact social change.

What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship

My maternal grandfather, Bolo, had a third-grade education, yet despite this he was an avid reader and storyteller.  He instilled in me the love for reading and learning.  I could sit for hours in his lap listening to all his stories.  I try to do model this in my work; to tell stories through my teaching and writing, because stories are powerful.  If you can tell a story through your teaching or research, people will listen.  My Bolo taught me this at a young age.  

What would you tell your younger self?

You are more than enough, there are others that are like you.  I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, a predominately white and affluent city, so I often felt like I didn’t fit in or was constantly trying to fit in.  Despite being a very involved and straight-A student, I never felt seen or validated in most of my k-12 education. 

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

For new scholars, especially those from historically marginalized communities; your work does not define your worth.  I am constantly struggling with the pressure to be as productive as I can be; to produce! As Scholars of Color, we often sacrifice so much to get to where we are.  We need to be more cautious about how much of ourselves we give up for the academy. The academy does not care about us, and frankly, the academy needs us more than we need it.  

Something else you want to share?

Gloria Anzaldúa’s words, “do work that matters, vale la pena,” continues to frame my journey and development as a teacher-scholar. 

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