Claremont, Calif. (March 24, 2016)—The Claremont 7Cs Diversity Working Group has awarded Pitzer College Professor Roberta Espinoza its inaugural Claremont Colleges Diversity Teaching Award. The award honors innovative activities and programs that address issues related to diversity and inclusion in higher education. Espinoza will be recognized at a Claremont Colleges Consortium-wide event on Friday, April 15, at Scripps Colleges’ Balch Auditorium.
Espinoza is being recognized for taking an interactive and student-centered approach to teaching that engages undergraduates with both the course material and each other.
“I strive to build community in the classroom to acknowledge everyone’s diverse perspectives,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza, who researches and writes about ways to increase access to higher education institutions for low-income and minority students, was a faculty coordinator for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program at The Claremont Colleges, an initiative that aims to increase diversity in higher education by supporting underrepresented students who want to become professors. The expert in educational equity has played a pivotal role establishing a program for first-generation college students and serves as a co-principal investigator of MECHANISM, a National Science Foundation-funded project that supports qualified students with demonstrated financial need who plan to major in STEM disciplines.
Espinoza was a first-generation college student when she enrolled at Pomona College as an undergraduate. She said she is honored to receive the inaugural Claremont Colleges Diversity Teaching Award and that the recognition also reflects the great teaching she received as a student at The Claremont Colleges.
“I work continuously to find new and creative ways to engage students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds in the same way that my professors were able to inspire me to learn and become a scholar and professor,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza is an associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College, interim director of Pitzer’s Institute for Global/Local Action and Study and the author of two books, Working-class Minority Students’ Routes to Higher Education (2012) and Pivotal Moments: How Educators Can Put All Students on the Path to College (2011). In 2013, she received a John Randolph Haynes Foundation Faculty Fellowship to research the role of nonprofits in creating paths to college for low-income and minority students. Her courses at Pitzer include Sociology and Its View of the World, Sociology of Education and Qualitative Research Methods. She has taught at Pitzer College since 2012.