About Me

As U.S. Latinos and Latinas achieve more, our accomplishments often remain unrecognized. In my case, I have enjoyed teaching 47 years at universities in Buffalo, New York, in Berkeley, California, in Houston, and in College Station Texas.  Today, I am working on a memoir, and I like talking about the skills and talents that students can work on to succeed.

After my freshman and sophomore years at Pan American University, I left my hometown in Edinburg in 1968, like many students at the time, with mixed expectations. Two years later I graduated with a B.A. in English from The University of Texas in Austin. No one would have predicted that I was to spend the next four years reading widely and carrying out research in American Literature in snowy Buffalo.  That investment provided me with a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York. Tells us that when the necessary elements in life coalesce, surprises abound.

In the spring of 1974, the English Department of the University of California/Berkeley hired me.  In the fall, I became the first Mexican American to teach American Literature classes at that top-ranked campus. Why? Because I wrote a chapter in my dissertation on Hawthorne that impressed the Berkeley English search committee! For a south Texas student who did not want to speak English until the ninth grade, that was quite a feat.  Since then, writing has continued to help me, allowing me to teach and to publish my work.

While raising a son and a daughter with my wife Rita, at Berkeley I also edited the work of some of the earliest published Chicano writers, a task that has since given birth to Latino, Mexican American Literature, and Ethnic Studies.

When departmental politics blocked my path toward tenure, I sulked but then was offered a position teaching and writing on literature at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, an upper-level next door to the Johnson NASA Space Center. I taught there 7 years, from 1979 until 1986 when I was selected Dean of Arts and Sciences at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. In 1988, I returned to Clear Lake where my first published book and a slew of articles, including 2 reviews in The New York Times Book Review, led to a full professorship. In 1991, the English Department at Texas A&M University offered me a position as Professor of English. In 2017, following 26 years of full-time teaching and administrative work in College Station, I retired.

I write with the hope that my career and publications will motivate students to invest their energies wisely.  I used mine to create the following books that I recommend to students and colleagues interested in Latino and Ethnic Studies:

  • Yearners (Moorpark, California: Floricanto Press, 2017) Politics
  • A Mexican Revolution Photo History (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2010, 2013, 2015) History
  • Latino Sun, Rising (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2005, 2007) Affirmations
  • Quality Education for Latinos and Latinas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005, 2007) Education
  • Crowding Out Latinos (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000) Iconography

As U.S. Latinos and Latinas achieve more, our accomplishments often remain unrecognized. In my case, I have enjoyed teaching 47 years at universities in Buffalo, New York, in Berkeley, California, in Houston, and in College Station Texas.  Today, I am working on a memoir, and I like talking about the skills and talents that students can work on to succeed.

After my freshman and sophomore years at Pan American University, I left my hometown in Edinburg in 1968, like many students at the time, with mixed expectations. Two years later I graduated with a B.A. in English from The University of Texas in Austin. No one would have predicted that I was to spend the next four years reading widely and carrying out research in American Literature in snowy Buffalo.  That investment provided me with a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York. Tells us that when the necessary elements in life coalesce, surprises abound.

In the spring of 1974, the English Department of the University of California/Berkeley hired me.  In the fall, I became the first Mexican American to teach American Literature classes at that top-ranked campus. Why? Because I wrote a chapter in my dissertation on Hawthorne that impressed the Berkeley English search committee! For a south Texas student who did not want to speak English until the ninth grade, that was quite a feat.  Since then, writing has continued to help me, allowing me to teach and to publish my work.

While raising a son and a daughter with my wife Rita, at Berkeley I also edited the work of some of the earliest published Chicano writers, a task that has since given birth to Latino, Mexican American Literature, and Ethnic Studies.

When departmental politics blocked my path toward earning tenure, I sulked but then was offered a literature position at the upper-level campus of the University of Houston, Clear Lake.  I taught in the backyard of NASA from 1979 until 1986 when I was selected Dean of Arts and Sciences at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. In 1988, I returned to Clear Lake where my first published book and a slew of articles, including 2 reviews in The New York Times Book Review, led to a full professorship. In 1991, the English Department at Texas A&M University offered me a position as Professor of English. In 2017, following 26 years of full-time teaching and administrative work in College Station, I retired.

At this point, I hope that my books and career will motivate students to use their energies wisely.  I used mine to create the following handful of texts that I recommend to all students and colleagues interested in Latino and Ethnic Studies:

  • Yearners (Moorpark, California: Floricanto Press, 2017) Politics
  • A Mexican Revolution Photo History (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2010, 2013, 2015) History
  • Latino Sun, Rising (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2005, 2007) Affirmations
  • Quality Education for Latinos and Latinas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005, 2007) Education
  • Crowding Out Latinos (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000) Iconography