Excellence in Teaching: Lorena Garcia
Each year, UIC honors some of its most dedicated and outstanding teachers with the Award for Excellence in Teaching. The winners, who receive a $5,000 salary increase, are selected by past recipients of the award from nominations made by departments and colleges.
Associate Professor, Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies
Years at UIC: 15 years
What does it mean to win an Excellence in Teaching Award?
It’s an honor to receive an Excellence in Teaching Award, in part, because it’s a way for me to honor the teachers who have enriched my own education. I was fortunate to cross paths with some teachers along my educational journey who inspired me and my classmates to be curious and think outside the box. I have always sought to do the same with the students I work with.
What do you teach?
I teach a variety of courses in sociology and Latin American and Latino studies, some of which are cross-listed with gender and women’s studies, such as on gender, sexualities, youth, Latinas in the U.S., and intersections of race/ethnicity, gender and social class among Latinxs.
How do you engage students in your courses?
I invite students to take ownership of their education by challenging them to go beyond being consumers of knowledge to becoming producers of knowledge who can generate positive social change. I agree with bell hooks, a Black feminist theorist, that education can be a practice of freedom in which the classroom is a collaborative space for challenging inequality, such as racism and sexism.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at UIC?
UIC is one of the most diverse universities in the nation. And many of our students are also first-generation college students. I have the privilege of teaching on this campus, but I also value that I get to learn from our students here at UIC.
What are your research interests?
Gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, intersectionality, Latina/o/x studies, youth studies, qualitative research methods.
What is your advice to students considering a teaching career?
Teaching, when carried out in an intentional manner, is hard work. But it can also be incredibly rewarding when you are clear on your “why” for pursing a teaching career. Don’t be shy about asking your prior or current teachers to share their “why” with you as you explore the possibility of a teaching career. And, most importantly, take time to also reflect on your why.