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UM Spanish Instructor Chosen for Engaged Scholars Initiative

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi Spanish professor Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra (second from right) spends time with Spanish language students (from left) Te’keyra Shelton, of Tupelo; Olivia Reeves, of Sulphur, Louisiana; and Landon Bradley, of Laurel. Sanchis-Sinisterra has been chosen for the 2023-24 cohort of the Engaged Scholars Initiative by Campus Compact. Submitted photo

Campus Compact has selected a University of Mississippi Spanish professor as part of its 2023-24 Engaged Scholars Initiative cohort.

Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra, instructional assistant professor of Spanish, is among 14 faculty and community engagement professionals from across the country selected by Campus Compact. The initiative is a yearlong collaborative learning and leadership program that trains diverse groups of early-career faculty and staff to lead equity-focused change at their institution and in communities.

The program features monthly online meetings with participants and instructors, and it starts and ends with an in-person retreat.

“It is an honor to represent the University of Mississippi in a cohort of higher education professionals devoted to the study and promotion of community engagement across universities in the U.S.,” she said. “It is also an excellent opportunity for professional development in this area.”

Sanchis-Sinisterra said her specific goal is to design a Spanish course for the Ole Miss Department of Modern Languages with a volunteering component connected to Oxford’s Hispanic community.

“Our students want to learn Spanish mostly because it will help them advance in their careers, but this cannot be the only reason,” Sanchis-Sinisterra said. “At the university, we are educating responsible citizens, and they need to be aware that Spanish is spoken by individuals that are their neighbors and suffer different layers of oppression.

“It is one of the many social justice issues that we have to confront. I also want to contribute to the university’s strategic plan, whose goal No. 3 is community engagement.”

Campus Compact impressed Sanchis-Sinsterra during a two-day online workshop where she learned about the initiative. Castel V. Sweet, UM director of community engagement and assistant professor of practice in community engagement, wrote a letter of support for Sanchis-Sinisterra to participate in the initiative.

“Carmen’s experience and ability to connect her expertise to the needs and interest of the community is exactly why the cohort was created,” Sweet said. “I am confident she will have much to add and share with others in the cohort, and her learning and development will benefit her teaching, scholarship, the university and the community she engages with.”

A native of Valencia, Spain, Sanchis-Sinisterra is working to build a connection between the university and Oxford’s Hispanic community. In her research, she explores feminist themes in the works of women writers, filmmakers and visual artists in contemporary Spain, focusing on romantic love and domestic work.

Scholars were nominated by institutional leaders and selected based on their commitment to promoting equity in their civic and community engagement work. Cohort members, representing 13 institutions from 11 states, hold a variety of roles on their campuses, but each has a demonstrated history of effective civic and community engagement work.

Over the course of the academic year, scholars will participate in professional development, virtual learning opportunities, retreats and individual support through mentoring and coaching. The aim of the program is to strengthen individual and collective scholarship, research and impact.

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Adam Brown
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