Name: Vanessa Rosa
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American Studies
Areas of study: Urban inequality, housing, race and ethnicity, women-of-color feminisms, nationalism/national identity formation
Research focus: Vanessa Rosa’s research interests include the study of race and ethnicity, citizenship, urban spatial formations and housing policy. She is currently completing a book manuscript, “Diversifying Cities: National Identity and Urban Revitalization.” Rosa is the recipient of York University’s highest teaching honor, the Ian Greene Award for Teaching Excellence.
What drew you to your area of study: I spent a lot of my childhood visiting my extended family in Toronto and New York City. These visits were a big contrast from my everyday life growing up in rural upstate New York. I have a vivid memory of driving through Harlem with my father as he described the differences from one corner to the next, mapping the many divides that organize New York City. I also remember his sadness about seeing big-box stores open in Harlem with the onset of gentrification. These conversations intrigued me — from a young age, I became curious about the urban built environment and the inequality that structures urban life, particularly for Latinx communities. That curiosity and a desire to challenge inequality informs my research.
What appeals to you about being a professor at Mount Holyoke: I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the past two years as a Mount Holyoke postdoctoral fellow. The students at Mount Holyoke are one of a kind. Sharing the classroom with them and getting to know them around campus has been a gift and has transformed me as a teacher and a scholar.
What do you like about teaching: I enjoy watching students learn and grow. It is rewarding to see students become excited about learning and watch them as they experience "aha!" moments in the classroom.
What do you look forward to at Mount Holyoke: getting to know and work with more students, faculty and staff
What are your proudest accomplishments, academic or other: finishing my Ph.D. and running marathons
Favorite previous work/volunteer/research/teaching experiences: My favorite and most challenging work experience outside of the academy was consulting for a large foundation in Toronto, where I was able to work alongside thought leaders and trailblazers in social justice work from multiple not-for-profit organizations. My favorite volunteer experience, at Toronto’s Regent Park Learning Centre, was working one-on-one to help women develop literacy skills.
My favorite research experience was working with a colleague from UMass Amherst on a project with several students from Holyoke High School last summer and fall. In this participatory-action research project, students led the project and interviewed community members. In the fall we worked together to analyze the interviews. This fall, we hope to have a public exhibit to share some of the findings. This project is particularly special to me because the colleague I worked with recently passed away. I hope the exhibit is one small way to honor his work in Holyoke.
My favorite teaching experiences: too many to list!
Favorite things about the campus and region so far: the greenery and lakes on campus and getting to see the Holyoke Range and the Connecticut River on my drive to work
What was your favorite class as an undergraduate: Political Theory and Feminist Political Thought
What do you like to do when you are not working: I like to cook, listen to podcasts and do hot yoga.
books: “This Bridge Called My Back” and “The Hungry Tide”
authors: Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga
movies: anything with action
TV: “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”
Read more about Vanessa Rosa.