For a second consecutive year, the SAM Center is connecting students and faculty with a series of brown-bag lectures, entitled “Up Close and Personal.” The lunchtime lecture series gives faculty an opportunity to tell their own stories and to discuss their own trials and tribulations during their careers and educations.
“The mission behind the program is that as there is increasing growth at Sam Houston, we don’t want to lose the informal, the connections, the relationshipsthat really characterize the culture of Sam Houston,” said Dr. Bernice Strauss, director of academic support programs. “It is possible to have a superlative academic education where you’re not just a number.”
There has been a good reception for the program, Strauss said, which allows presenters to speak, and answer.
The first session of the semester featured visiting sociology professor Dr. Sujey Vega in the Farrington Pit Tuesday.
Dr. Vega holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, focusing on Latino communities and immigration. During her lecture entitled “Tenacity and Perseverance: Living up to the legacy of my Mexican parents,” she spoke of her mistakes and how she overcame obstacles.
“I never felt good enough and I feel a lot of first generation students feel that — feel that [they’re] not good enough,” Vega said. “I really wanted to get to the students and faculty to get to know me a little bit better, so I wanted to kind of give my story and offer up an ear.”
This is Vega’s first semester teaching, although she has been a presence on campus for a year.
“I can honestly say I love my job,” she said. “I love teaching, I take my subjects – race, ethnicity, and sociology really seriously and I really live for that.”
During her lecture, Vega discussed the role her education plays in her personal life and private time. According to Vega, her job and education allow her to view even ordinary activities in new ways.
“I always [watch television] with an academic lens. Professors don’t have 9-5 jobs, we just kind of take our jobs with us, so when I watch Heroes or Project Runway or The Office — which I love — I do so with a critical lens.”
Vega also spoke to attendees about her goals to combine her studies and to work for better communities.
“I’d like to affect change in society in some way,” she said. I don’t want to be caught in this bubble of academia. I want to try to do academia and try to reach out to the community.”
At the end of her speech, Vega left the crowd with a phrase she admittedly stole from her husband, but cites frequently.
“It’s a three word quick phrase students can memorize,.do the work,” she said. “When you fail a quiz, the test or a class, ask yourself, did you do the work? When you’re overlooked for a raise, once more, did you do the work? When any moment of disappointment arises, look deep in the mirror- truly interrogate yourself…did I do the freaking work?”
Jenny Swenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org