Javier Alvarez-Jaimes

North Carolina Central University
Associate Professor
Barranquilla, Colombia
Richmond, United States of America
Faculty of Arts
News Discourse, Politics, Hip hop and Other Forms of Violence
Rita De Grandis

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

I teach Spanish language and culture. I participate in recruitment events, organize cultural events, and serve as an advocate for the rights of the Hispanic/Latino student population and their families.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

I learned the key concepts of the discipline and acquired the ability to conduct discussions on crucial topics. Serving as a Teaching Assistant (instructor) helped me acquire the experience I needed to be a successful instructor.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I like that I have little to no pressure in my department. I find challenging the fact that most of the courses I teach are in the lower division.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

UBC's (the university itself) reputation, the location (Vancouver), Canada as a country, and the opportunity to learn from and to study under the great professors of the FHIS department.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

Everything. I absolutely loved my experience at UBC. I can't say there were no hard times, stress and even depression but I made wonderful friends and if I went back in time, I would most likely enroll at UBC again. I made a group of friends outside the university with whom I used to play soccer every Friday and I can say they also played a role in my well being as a grad student.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

Being personable. Being a human being and listening to those who need to be heard. Taking time to socialize with almost every person who crossed my path. Being of service whenever possible and addressing my weaknesses. Working every day to overcome any shortness of character. Also, believing in myself.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Learn as much as you can but don't neglect to cultivate soft skills. Being human and capable to relate to others may be as necessary and will definitely compliment your acquired knowledge. Love every opportunity to serve in the university life, join some committees, and pursue an opportunity to teach as a teaching assistant because that experience will not only help your resume but prepare you to succeed in the academia and outside of it as well. After all, you will be dealing with people mostly.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

I took a break of three years between my undergraduate degree and my MA. They were not planned. I was young and didn't know what to do with my life, without money, in need of a job and a career. I taught for several years and decided to enroll in my MA. Then, I went for my Ph.D. right away.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

While a graduate student, I had challenges. One of them is being far from your loved ones. Also, financial challenges were always latent. In obtaining my current position, one challenge I faced was the way I saw knowledge. I would say, I was a bit disconnected from reality in the sense that a great majority of undergraduate students today are not necessarily hungry for knowledge but rather they need a degree in order to obtain a job. Also, some students may not be able to purchase textbooks or class materials. I had to come to terms with this reality and learn to work with these students as well so that they also had a chance to be successful even though their approach to education was not the same as mine. I have learned to become more understanding and flexible in certain situations.


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