Gabriela Díaz de Gallegos
Assistant Professor of Spanish
Ben Woods 06
Gabriela Díaz de Gallegos, assistant professor of Spanish, was born in Laredo, Texas, and grew up in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. We lived, as my family still does today, a very border lifestyle. When we were younger, we found entertainment on the United States side of the border while our livelihood and schooling was based in Mexico, she says.
While attending Texas A&M International Universitywhere she initially planned to study accountingDíaz de Gallegos was influenced by several teachers, including Chicana writer Norma Cantú. As a result, she became an English and history major with a minor in Spanish. She says, I remember finding great inspiration and passion for the written word. In a sense, literature was the only thing that could transport me to the idea of the sublime, the inspiration of awe and spiritual greatness that was unlike anything I had experienced.
Díaz de Gallegos knew that she wanted to become a teacher. She wanted, in particular, to serve the Latino/a/Chicano/a communities by becoming a role model. I remember as a young woman on the border never thinking about other possibilities for education besides the opportunities afforded locally, and it was because of some incredibly inspiring professors and their altruism that I became, not only a first-generation college graduate, but the only one in my extended family to receive a Ph.D., she says.
As a professor, Díaz de Gallegos attempts to provide students with the linguistic and cultural competency to make them more well-rounded, responsible, committed and aware individuals. I believe there is a level of understanding in every culture that can never be penetrated unless there is a high level of linguistic competency, which facilitates cultural competency, she says. Díaz de Gallegos also integrates her research into her upper-level courses. My research deals with modernization in the Latin American context and how intellectuals have seen their roles shift, particularly through the period of modernity and globalization, and how, in that critique, intellectuals find ways of stating their own relevancy and authority as cultures locust of enunciation shifts from the written word to the visual world of mass media. She believes this approach makes students think about activism, community involvement and their own balance as scholars and global citizens.
In her spare time, Díaz de Gallegos enjoys spending time with her husband, Leon, and her daughter, Nadia.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Amanda Lott 07
Phil Hopkins never really became interested in learning until his final years of college, when, for the first time, some of his courses connected around a set of questions and a historical period from which he learned that education could be about seeing the relations between things rather than just acquiring information.
Throughout his undergraduate studies, Hopkins moved between school and the workforcewhere he was a social worker, cop, horse trainer and carpenter. He also started spending extended periods of time in the wild country of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. After nine years, he earned a degree in humanities and English. I think it took me so long to finish school because there was always that question of what I was going to do. I eventually realized that college was not about getting a job; it was about getting an education, explains Hopkins.
Though Hopkins returned to work as a police officer after graduation, experiences training other officers and a foray into secondary education helped him realize that he truly enjoyed teaching. So, he returned to school to become a college professor.
Hopkins first heard about Southwestern while studying at St. Johns College, and was impressed with the University. While working toward his doctorate, he took a visiting professor position at Southwestern, which eventually led to a tenure-track position. Southwestern was very much the type of place where I wanted to teach, notes Hopkins. There is a great deal of collaboration between faculty in different departments, a supportive environment and academic freedom. I really like the work I am able to do with students in my classes here.
Hopkins structures his classes so that students are actively engaged in teaching themselves. He wants his students to deeply question things that they think about themselves and the world. My students should expect to have their way of seeing things challenged in order to better understand why they see things the way that they do, he says.
Outside of teaching, Hopkins enjoys spending time with his family and tending to his farm, which he often does with his two children, Becca and Isaac. He also enjoys woodworking and remodeling his house. I have been a kind of geographical, occupational and intellectual gypsy, and have crossed a number of other unusual boundaries in my life. Ive had a rich and rewarding life, but its very nice to be putting down roots here.