May 5, 2021
Pacheco, Escobar Winners of College's Diversity Award
Emma Pacheco and Jennifer Escobar, assistant professors in English, were awarded Diversity Awards during the College's Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging celebration last month. The theme of the summit was Creating a Culture of Belonging and Inclusion. Eddie Glaude, Jr., Ph.D., professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, led a panel of students in a discussion of how to have more productive conversations about race.
Pacheco, who began with the District in 2018, was cited as the 2020 winner. In addition to teaching English, Pacheco has served as the Puente coordinator.
"Emma's outstanding contributions to MVC and diversity include her commitment to culturally responsive teaching in the classroom, her dedication to the Puente Program, and her exemplary service to the College," Christopher Sweeten, vice president of Student Services, said. "In the classroom, Emma centers her students' life experiences with projects like Food Memoirs where students engage in rigorous research, conduct oral histories in their communities, and celebrate their own cultural capital."
In 2019, Pacheco brought Día de los Niños to the College. Día de los Niños is an event that recognizes children, pays homage to their importance in society, and endorses their well-being while highlighting the value of multicultural literacy. Partnering with the Early Childhood Education Center, she spearheaded the cultural event that included a children's book distribution, Aztec dancing, and an opportunity for students from her Children's Literature class to participate in a service learning. She also has adapted numerous Puente events to the online environment: Puente Familia Hour, Mentor Motivational Mondays on MVC Puente Instagram, and Zoom Mentor Career panels in order to continue servicing her students.
"Emma's commitment to equity and community also extends to every aspect of her service to the College," Sweeten said. "Emma received several nominations from students and colleagues for this award. One student shared that 'she always has a smile on her face, and she goes the extra mile to help you with anything you might need extra attention with.'"
One of her colleagues called her "unprecedented in her community-mindedness, collaborative spirit, and support of students, staff, and faculty."
"I'm truly honored to have been selected, and I'm looking forward to seeing the growth of more multicultural opportunities not only for our campus but for our Moreno Valley community," Pacheco said. "I'm also excited to see the growth of Día de los Niños/Libros (Childrens' Day/Day of the Book) and our continued collaborations with the Early Childhood Education Center."
Escobar, who was hired in 2016, was selected the 2021 winner. She serves as the assistant chair of English and has been a leader in the department for discipline change including composition pedagogies, the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.
"In the classroom, she honors students' language competencies by promoting use of their heritage languages, and she offers innovative opportunities for students to participate in project-based learning through her collaboration with the Maker Space. But students are not the only beneficiaries of her talent, intellect, and knowledge — she is celebrated as a leader of professional development," Sweeten said. "Even more impressive is her skillful adaptation of theory into practice as she adopts culturally sustaining and anti-racist pedagogies, such as the use of antiracist assessment ecologies like grading contracts and ungrading.
In the English discipline, Escobar is known for fostering a spirit of collaborative learning and ongoing growth for faculty from embedding professional learning in English discipline meetings to facilitating English-wide workshops. Additionally, she extends that spirit of collaboration beyond English with a K-12 collaborative that she forged through relationships with high school colleagues. With interdisciplinary FLEX workshops, she centers students who have been justice-impacted, like supporting formerly incarcerated students. She has also shared her ongoing student-centered work statewide, most recently hosting Ungrading Classroom Assessments in a Pandemic for the California Community Colleges' Success Network.
"I am deeply honored and thankful to have been chosen for this award," Escobar said.
One of Escobar's shining contributions is her work with the grant-funded Oral Histories Project. She's been recognized in the state as one of the first community college instructors to receive such a grant. With the Oral Histories Project, Escobar fosters an innovative space for teachers across disciplines and at both the college and high-school level to collaborate and learn how to amplify student voices and create opportunities for students to celebrate their families and communities.
"Jennifer's passion for student success, equity and diversity is readily transparent not only in her professional development leadership, but also in her service to the College," Sweeten said. "Jennifer is a change-maker. She changes the lives and educational experiences of students, changes and positively impacts her colleagues' teaching, and changes inequitable policies and practices at the institutional level."