Ethnic Studies Professor and Chair Dr. Amber Rose González has been named the 2020 Fullerton College Faculty of the Year. Student leaders and staff shared the news with González during a surprise visit to her classroom on Feb. 10 after she received many letters of support from current and former students providing testimony to her inspirational role in their student experience.
“Thank you, everybody. I feel like I say this all the time in my classes, I love what I do, it doesn’t feel like work,” González said as she held back tears following the announcement. “I’m like really surprised. Wow, this is really great.”
The support letters for González included a myriad of recognition for her ability to inspire and empower students through Chicano/a Studies and Womxn’s Studies courses. Many students expressed the powerful, authentic, and enlightening way González presents subject matter in each of her courses.
“One of the things I love about her is that she is so unapologetically herself that it’s so relatable, yet super inspiring,” one letter said.
Another letter of support focused on González’s ability to help students connect with their own experiences as they study historical aspects of ethnicity, race and culture. “She demonstrates a talent of handling differences and similarities amongst the students in the classroom to evoke meaningful discussions and transfer of knowledge through lived experiences of the material in the textbook.”
All of the letters highlighted González’s passion for Ethnic Studies.
The core of González’s teaching philosophy is modeled after author and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins, better known as her pen name, bell hooks:
“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility, we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”
González says her understanding of “education as the practice of freedom” manifests in the ways that she intentionally creates a beloved community with her students both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Creating beloved communities is intentional and integral to my work as an educator, community organizer, and healer,” González said.
Since 2014, González has co-organized an annual Ethnic Studies Summit at Fullerton College. The event brings together students, scholar-activists, organizers, artists, and local folks to explore a different theme each year. The summit also creates a space to share and generate knowledge and inspire action by theorizing, strategizing, skill-sharing, and discussing practices for responding to and ending all systems of oppression, to engage in communal healing, and to create a more just society, González said.
“Professor González has indeed kept Ethnic Studies as a viable prime academic mover on the Fullerton College campus,” said Ethnic Studies Professor Emeritus Gerald Padilla, who mentored González before retiring in 2018. “Her social justice summits have been attractive to scholars, and she now manages the annual Day of the Dead event, which is a major community affair.”
González will be submitted as a NOCCCD nominee for the Orange County Department of Education’s 2021 OC Teacher of the Year. The regional award seeks to recognize community college teachers in Orange County whose efforts have inspired and enabled students to improve their lives in ways specifically attributable to that teacher.
González will also be honored at a Teacher of the Year celebration later this spring.
For more information contact Student Life and Leadership at 714-992-7095.