Scholar Stories: Dra. Cristina Rhodes

How do you use writing or art in your life?

I write everything down–from to-do lists to ideas for new research projects. Writing is the way by which I can make sense of things. If I don’t write it down, it’s almost as if something doesn’t exist. Writing concretizing things, gives them a permanency. My favorite theorist, Gloria Anzaldúa, said writing gives one power. And I think that’s so true. Writing is creation. Writing is revolution. 

On the other side of the coin, it’s also connection, which is more important now than ever. Since I’m currently in Texas and away from my students in Pennsylvania, writing is how I can communicate and continue to connect with them. 

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

My family always imbued in me a strong sense of who I am, and a pride in that identity. And, that wasn’t always easy for a Mexican American growing up in rural Virginia. But I had such a strong tie to my culture despite geography and that was thanks to my parents. This is something I carry into my own research–a groundedness in who I am and the way I view things because of that identity. I always state my position in my writing. This is also something I encourage my own students to do: To understand how they move through the world and the impacts of those motions on their work. 

What would you tell your younger self?

To be less ashamed of addressing your mental health and wellbeing. I didn’t start maintaining my mental health until my last year of my doctoral program, and it meant I suffered for a long time unnecessarily. 

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

It’s hard and it’s going to be hard. But don’t let yourself feel like you don’t belong in your position just because it is hard. The academy isn’t made for people like us (Latinas), and that’s not our fault. But that doesn’t mean you don’t belong. There are more obstacles against us than others. The more Latinas we see in scholarship or the classroom, the easier it’s going to be for more of us to get there. To feel empowered. That’s not to say that you need to be a martyr for future generations, though! Guard yourselves and your time. 

Something else you want to share?

Always remember: vale la pena!

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