After a rigorous nomination process, Professor Oswaldo Estrada was selected as one of the three recipients of The Chapman Family Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes distinguished teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as providing support and funding for research.
For Professor Estrada, who is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature, the satisfaction and reward he receives from teaching is more fulfilling.
“This is such an exciting thing, but I think what is most rewarding is to know that what we have done in the classroom has grown,” he says, “this is a public recognition to what many of us here on campus have been doing.”
Despite his current passion for his job, Professor Estrada did not always want to teach. Like many Latin American youth in the United States, he was expected to become a doctor or a lawyer. Although he did not want to give up his original goal of becoming a doctor, his liking for Latin American literature began early in his college career.
“It took one of my professors to say, ‘you know, you’re really good at this. Why don’t you study literature? You could teach, you could get a Ph.D.’”
At the time, these were remote dreams for young Estrada. But, in his words, “in the end, it worked out.”
He says he does not regret following his own vocation, and he cannot imagine himself doing anything else.
Professor Estrada also urges Latina/o students to follow their own hearts and their own interests. “Many students are here because they are following their parents’ dreams. And that’s alright, because they have to begin somewhere. But if there is something that inspires you and catches your interest, do your own research,” he says. “Only when you find what truly motivates you will you be happy.”
Professor Estrada identifies with many Latinas/os on campus because he has faced similar obstacles and struggles. He hopes to be a role model for students and be a positive influence on students and other people.
In addition to receiving the Chapman Family Distinguished Teaching Award, he has also published two new books on Mexican coloniality and women writers. (isa.unc.edu/estrada-publishes-new-books-on-mexican-coloniality-and-women-writers/)