Hispanic Studies Ph.D. - A Dream Come True at TAMIU

Hispanic Studies Ph.D. - A Dream Come True at TAMIU

Local students selected to form the first cohort for the Texas A&M International University collaborative Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies join Dr. Nasser Momayezi, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Kathleen Pletsch de Garcia, chair of the department of Language and Literature. Left to right, Conchita Hickey, Dr. Pletsch de Garcia, Dr. Momayezi, Maria Dolores Orellano-Perez and Lisa Flores.

At first, it was a dream, a wish for more – but without a practical path to achievement.  Then Texas A&M International University announced the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board had approved its collaborative Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies, the first of its kind in Texas.  Lola Orellano-Pérez, director of the TAMIU International Language Institute, knew the time was now.

As the first person to receive the Master of Arts in Spanish from TAMIU, Orellano-Pérez explained the Ph.D. was a logical continuation of her studies, but had always been out of reach.

“Even after I received my degree from TAMIU, I continued taking classes, doing research.  I looked around for doctoral programs, but realistically, as a single mother with six children, I could not just pack up my family and move to anther city,” she said.

Selected as part of the program’s first cohort, Orellano-Pérez will pursue a degree in one of four overlapping concentrations: Hispanic Language and Literature, Hispanic Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Pedagogy and Bilingual and Bicultural Studies. Courses will be taught at TAMIU and via distance education with faculty members from other A&M System schools, including Texas A&M University – College Station.  After completing their studies, students receive their doctorates from TAMU.

Lisa Flores, director of the Office of Student Activities and fellow first cohort member, said the new program would allow her to study with professors she might not otherwise meet.

“I’m excited that this opportunity will connect us to a wide variety of professors both here and throughout The Texas A&M University System. With their guidance, I hope to broaden my knowledge base in Hispanic Studies, so I can ultimately engage in teaching and research at the university level,” said Flores.

Currently the executive director of the Office of Programs for Academic Support and Enrichment, Concepcion Hickey has worked at TAMIU in some capacity for nearly 26 years.  She is pursuing the advanced degree for self-enrichment, knowledge, and to continue to improve TAMIU.

“I will continue working and plan to be a part-time student.  I am more interested in the learning process at my age than in acquiring any title,” said Hickey, “My purpose is to grow intellectually and gain knowledge that will be useful to the students I come in contact with and the programs I direct.  I want to contribute to this university that has given me an enriching and rewarding work experience.”

Dr. Nasser Momayezi, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the degree would elevate the local community’s interests to the highest academic level.

“The creation of the Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies indicates the growing importance of understanding and studying a much overlooked community.  The work emerging from this program will be valuable not only to South Texas, but nationwide,” said Dr. Momayezi.

The first cohort will consist of the three TAMIU students, one student from Texas A&M University – Kingsville and eight students from Texas A&M University – College Station.  All will begin classes in the Fall.  TAMIU professors who will teach in the program include Dr. Kati Pletsch de García, acting program director at TAMIU, Dr. Ezra Engling and Dr. José Cardona-López.

For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Pletsch de García at 326.2614 or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 428B.  University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu