Name: Jennifer Avila
Length of time as UWest community member: Starting 3rd academic year this Fall Semester
Courses taught at UWest:
English 101: English Composition
English 102: Composition II: Critical Thinking
English 495: Writing Culture: Literary Imagination & Cultural Identity (Comprehensive English Capstone)
Literature 430: Topics in Chicana/o Literature
Currently reading: Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
Hobbies: Spending time with family, cooking, playing tennis, going to the gym, being outdoors, watching all sports, and traveling.
Favorite UWest community memory: “The basketball tournament is one of my favorites. It was a student, faculty, staff basketball tournament and I really, really enjoyed that just because everyone is coming together and just having fun.”
Favorite UWest academic memory: “All of my students have had done amazing presentations in my English 102 class, and I think what’s been a highlight is giving them really loose directions and seeing what they come up with. And I get really personally connected presentations that relate to the course topic, but that are really relevant and important to each student. Students give a little bit of themselves to the class and I appreciate that. I really enjoy the honesty and the openness that everyone feels to put themselves into their work and their presentations and their essays. “
Favorite authors/books: “I have a lot of favorite authors. One of my favorites is Gary Soto, a poet and short story author. Oliver Mayer, who is a playwright. One of my favorite novels of all time is Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. I also am a big fan of Ernest Hemingway, and Sandra Cisneros is also up there.
I have a favorite of every genre. A lot of non-fiction, a lot of theory that I love and I like. I’m very much about reading all different kinds of genres. I love poetry. I love theatre. I love short stories, non-fiction.”
Did you always want to be a professor?: “[Laughs] No, oh my goodness, no! You know, when I started going to college I didn’t even know what I wanted to major in so I went into higher education not even having a major. And once I had my major I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher even then. I just knew I loved the discipline I was studying so English was meant for me. I always loved books; it’s just been a passion of mine. It is part of my identity, just reading literature and having a deep appreciation for art. A lot of my family is in music so I come from that background of artistic appreciation. I think literature is just my niche for doing that.
I didn’t even think about being a teacher until towards the end of my master’s degree, to be honest. I started my master’s degree just because I didn’t want to stop learning and studying English and enjoyed it that much. I also didn’t want to stop because I was a collegiate athlete and had another year of eligibility that would have paid for my masters so I stayed on the team and I absolutely loved it. I don’t know how all of the pieces came together for teaching but I actually went into my masters knowing I wanted to get my PhD. That’s always kind of been the goal of mine, getting a PhD and continuing my love of the discipline and immersing myself in it. I didn’t want to stop being an English major so when it fell into place was when I became a TA in my PhD program beginning in my second year of coursework. You kind of have to get your financial support and that’s how I started teaching and I loved it. I absolutely loved it.”