El Paso Community College (EPCC) Professor of Philosophy, Manuela Alejandra Gomez was honored as a 2022 Piper Professor for the state of Texas.
This is one of the most prestigious, state-wide awards for teaching excellence at the college level. Since 1958, the recognition has been given annually by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation to the top 10 professors in the state of Texas for their superior teaching and extraordinary academic, scientific, and scholarly achievements, and for their remarkable dedication to the teaching profession. The award committee considers outstanding professors who are nominated from two and four-year colleges and universities, public and private, across the entire state.
Manuela Alejandra Gomez 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 over 17 years of teaching experience and is a doctoral candidate in Teaching, Learning, and Culture at the University of Texas at El Paso.
She is the author of the book Rediscovering the Philosophical Importance of Jose Ingenieros – A Bridge between Two Worlds. This work connects Latin American philosophy and pragmatism. She also wrote a chapter for the book Pragmatism in the Americas. In this work, over a dozen scholars from all over Latin America, filled a void in the humanities and elevated the voices of numerous Hispanic pragmatists, who were excluded in standard academic texts. She also published an Open Educational Resource (OER) Ethics textbook, which is freely available for low-income college students. Additionally, she has published multiple academic articles and book reviews throughout the years.
Gomez has received numerous teaching and mentorship awards and has reached important academic milestones. In 2017, she won a competitive educator scholarship to attend Yale University, where she learned about multiculturalism in education. In 2018, and again in 2020, she won the EPCC Inspirational Award. In 2019, she presented her work at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, and she was appointed to the national committee of the Society for the Advancement for American Philosophy (SAAP) to oversee diversity. Furthermore, she was given the 2019 Success Through Technology Education Foundation (STTE) Award for her contributions to the community and for using philosophy to solve real-world problems. In 2020, she received the EPCC Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award, and she and her philosophy students were named 2020 Community Champions by the El Paso Community Foundation and KVIA-TV for their philanthropic efforts on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Some of the efforts include making over 2,500 reusable facemasks for the most vulnerable members of the community, including homeless and migrant shelters in the U.S. and Mexico at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and donating over 800 Christmas gifts to Indigenous children in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. In 2021, Gomez was part of El Paso County’s working group that created the Healing Garden, a place that commemorates the victims of the August 3rd shooting. Additionally, she won the EPCC Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award nomination, and the Texas House of Representatives honored her with HR 754, a congratulatory bill for her academic achievements and civic engagement.
“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. As a philosophy professor at EPCC, the same institution where I first learned English as a second language decades ago, 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. Through the years, I have found that philosophy is a dynamic tool for healing and transformation,” said Gomez.
In 2022, Gomez was appointed to the American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on Hispanic and Latinx Philosophy until 2025. The committee is charged with nationally assessing and reporting on unfair or discriminatory practices affecting Hispanic or Latinx philosophers in their professional work. The committee is also concerned with teaching and research and promoting cultural diversity.
In the last decade, Gomez and her students have raised over $40,000 for community projects. Gomez was recently a guest lecturer at Harvard University for her philosophical work on the U.S.-Mexico border and participated in a panel with Dolores Huerta at DePaul University, where they discussed the legacy of Cesar Chavez. 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.
In her nomination for the Piper Professor Award, 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 the hope, resilience, hard work, and excellence that is deserving of this award.”
Another former EPCC philosophy student of Gomez, Daniel Avitia stated:
“From her unique and participatory curriculums, 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 at the borderlands.”
Gomez will be honored at this year’s EPCC 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 visit comptroller.texas.gov
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