El Paso Community College (EPCC) Professor of Philosophy, Manuela Alejandra Gomez was announced as a 2022 Piper Professor for the state of Texas.
After receiving and carefully reviewing nominations of top professors submitted by colleges and universities across the State, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation awarded 10 professors for their superior teaching and extraordinary academic, scientific, and scholarly achievements, and for their remarkable dedication to the teaching profession.
This is one of the most prestigious, state-wide awards for teaching excellence in higher education. It is not often this recognition goes to a community college professor, so EPCC officials say they are especially proud of Gomez’s work and the important role of faculty. EPCC’s professors not only teach in the classroom as accomplished academics but they are also successful in their respective professional fields. “EPCC is proud of Professor Manuela Gomez for being competitively selected a Minnie Stevens Piper Award recipient,” Dr. Steven Smith, Vice President of Instruction and Workforce Education said. “Her extraordinary efforts are seen both inside and outside of the classroom as she makes a powerful impact on students and has become a transformative voice in the field of philosophy.”
Gomez is currently the EPCC District-wide Coordinator for Philosophy, Coordinator of Faculty Development, Faculty Campus Coordinator at Valle Verde, and is a Faculty Senator. She is an award-winning professor, journalist, and author who has been widely cited, quoted, and interviewed for her expertise on U.S.-Mexico border education and politics in the international and national media. She specializes in philosophical pedagogy, ethics, feminism, and Latin American philosophy. Gomez has 17 years of teaching experience and is a doctoral candidate in Teaching, Learning, and Culture at the University of Texas at El Paso.
As someone who learned English as a second language while studying at EPCC herself, Gomez is committed to being a role model for students, is aware of the importance of her voice as a woman of color and being actively engaged with the community. She says that through the years, she has found that philosophy is a dynamic tool for healing and transformation. “Being selected as one of the best professors in the state of Texas is a huge honor to me because there are not many women in philosophy, much less women from the U.S.-Mexico border,” Gomez said. “As a philosophy professor at EPCC, I get to encourage my students to be critical, to seek justice, and to discover the power of putting philosophy into action to improve our community. Most of my academic research and philosophical pedagogy focus on creating a representation of diverse voices in philosophy and including those who have been neglected.”
Her students describe how Gomez has positively influenced their lives. Rocio Fierro, a former EPCC philosophy student of Gomez and former EPCC Student Government President said, “Representation and visibility are critical for students to see themselves accomplishing their own goals. As a Mexican American woman, teaching philosophy, Professor Gomez embodies hope, resilience, hard work, and excellence.”
Not only does Gomez lead students in the classroom, but she also helps them outside of the classroom with community work and is the faculty sponsor for the extracurricular student Philosophy Club. Gomez and her students have raised more $40,000 for community projects as well as held drives for clothing, sewn masks during COVID and other projects. “From her unique and participatory curriculum, commitment to the flourishing of the active and life-changing and potentially life-saving EPCC Philosophy Club, to her publications of articles and books, or national and international presentations given to other members of the community or academics in conferences, to her active involvement as a respected member of multiple academic committees, Professor Gomez is undoubtedly a phenomenal example for us, students, and community members, here in the borderlands,” Daniel Avitia, EPCC Philosophy student said.
Additionally, Gomez was recently a guest lecturer at Harvard University. She is a book and textbook author and has published multiple academic articles and book reviews throughout her career. She has also received many regional national awards for her teaching and academic scholarship. In addition to her professional and academic endeavors, she also volunteers within the community and is a passionate advocate for the U.S.-Mexico border region.
EPCC will honor Gomez at this year’s faculty recognition dinner. Through the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, she will receive an official certificate of merit, a gold pin, and a $5,000 honorarium. For more information about the Piper Professor, Click Here
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