Irma V. Montelongo
Associate Professor of Practice and Online Program Coordinator, Chicano Studies
Dr. Irma Montelongo has been at UTEP for 11 years and became a full-time lecturer while completing her doctorate in Borderlands History at UTEP. She credits her great-grandmother, who escaped the Mexican Revolution and came to the United States in 1915, for her enduring passion for history. Her interest in Border Studies developed as she learned more about Mexican and Chicana/o history and realized that her communities were ill-represented.
Dr. Montelongo's fields of study include Gender and Sexuality, Latin American History, U.S. History with a sub-field in Immigration Studies, and Borderlands History with a sub-field in Race and Ethnic Studies. Her research and teaching interests focus on race, class, gender, sexuality, and criminology on the U.S.-Mexico border. She developed and teaches Global Learning Communities linked with classes at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The courses focus on globalization and its impact on migration, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
- 2018 Border Hero Award from Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
- 2018 Outstanding Lecturer Award from the College of Liberal Arts
- 2018 UT Regents Outstanding Teaching Award from The University of Texas System
- Faculty/undergraduate students under the direction of Dr. Irma Montelongo successfully participated in the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) Conference in San Antonio with their El Paso-based research.
- She obtained a research grant “Beyond Digital Fronteras: Rehumanizing Latinx Education” from the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) that will lead to a publication by a group of scholars from UTEP, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale University and New Mexico State University.
The courses she teaches:
- CHIC 3311: Societal Issues
- CHIC 3301: La Chicana
- CHIC 4306: Colonias on the U.S. - Mexico Border
- HIST: 3309: Mexican American History
- CHIC 3305 Chicana/o Identity Formation: Race, Class, and Gender
- CHIC 4301 Chicana/o Legal History
- CHIC 4309 American Immigration and Social Justice
- CHIC 4350: Special Topics
Where her passion comes from:
I have always been a history buff and I owe that to my great-grandmother, who escaping the Mexican Revolution, migrated to the United States in 1915. I remember sitting with her, completely enthralled as she told me stories of her childhood in Mexico and her experiences as she fled the war-torn country. I soaked up her every word and it was then that I fell in love with history. I started reading historical novels and documentaries became my favorite viewing material. The more I learned, the more I realized that my communities were not properly represented in the stories. I began to immerse myself in Mexican history and then in Chicana/o history and that led to my decision to pursue a BA and an MA in history. In the process, I developed a passion for Border Studies and Identity Formation and that ultimately led to a doctorate in Borderlands history.
Her proudest accomplishment at UTEP:
I developed and (now) coordinate the Chicano Studies Online Program so that is ultimately my proudest accomplishment, but there are so many more to speak of. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as an online instructor every semester when students tell me that for the first time they are learning about their history, culture, and communities. I see in them the same spark that I felt when I too became more aware of my history and the many contributions that Chicana/os have given American society. I am proud to be able to close those gaps, to teach students that Chicana/o history is American history. It’s a good feeling to receive student feedback and read about a newfound pride and awareness of themselves and their communities after taking our courses. Finally, I am proud that I was afforded the opportunity to develop a curriculum that underscores the intelligence, resilience, and beauty of the Chicana/o people.
On what makes a successful online student:
First and foremost, online students need to have good time management skills. Online students must understand that distance learning is independent learning. While online courses are intended to provide students with a learning platform not bound by traditional schedules, they are often accelerated courses with due dates and deadlines. Another characteristic of a good online student is the ability to collaborate with fellow students. Active learning in an online classroom often revolves around class discussion and/or group work, so the ability to collaborate with people at great distances and different time zones is crucial. Finally, this may sound very basic, but one thing that makes all online students successful is the ability to follow instructions. Since the online classroom is a virtual space where instructors are not physically present, students are required to take responsibility for carefully implementing all instructions and guidelines to ensure proper submissions and passing grades. Students hurt their learning outcomes when they do not carefully follow instructions and guidelines.
One piece of advice she has for her students:
Every course is important. Every course provides students with the tools necessary to confront societal issues on a daily basis. It does not matter whether you are entering Social Work, Education, Health Services, Business, or Law Enforcement, Chicano Studies provides students with a foundation necessary for negotiating cultural diversity and sensitivity in the United States. With Latina/os being one of the fastest growing minority populations in the U.S. and soon to be the majority in Texas as early as 2022, it is incredibly important that students understand the communities they are working with and for. My advice is to take as much as you can from every course and be sensitive to social, political, and economic diversity.