Behind the clean-cut appearance, impeccable composure and assertive demeanor, is a man who begins his day at 6:30 in the morning when he is awoken by his 8-year-old daughter, a valued portion of the day. History instructor Christopher Jimenez y West is a man who intermingles his past with the present and integrates it into his teaching.
By incorporating previous diversity work and his background as art curator into his curriculum, Jimenez y West brings a distinct teaching style to students that stretches beyond the classroom.
Previously, the history curator at the California African American Museum and lecturer at the University of Southern California, Jimenez y West has made several stops on his path to becoming a full-time instructor and admits that he had a very different outlook for himself as an undergraduate student at University of California, Berkeley. â€œIf you had asked me where I saw myself I would have said vice president for student affairs,â€ he said. â€œThose were the people who I admired.â€
After several years of participating in diversity consulting organizations and composing intricate exhibits at CAAM, Jimenez y West realized what his true calling was. â€œ25 percent of my time was lecturing on either African or Mexican American history at USC, and I was curating [the other] 75 percent. I didnâ€™t like the mixture anymore,â€ he said. â€œI realized that what I was interested in my day was teaching now.â€
Social Sciences instructor Tracy Sachtjen spoke highly of her office mate. â€œThere is no better advocate for students than Professor Jimenez y West. He brings to his lectures a level of intensity that challenges students to rethink the purpose of studying the past,â€ she said. â€œHis deep dedication to PCC is reflected in his warmth and integrity.â€
As an instructor, Jimenez y West has found a way to eloquently intermingle his past into the classroom. â€œMy modern African history midterm project was a museum exhibit and the students, I think, fed off of my love and passion for my curatorial work and really ran with some great exhibitions,â€ he said.
Additionally, Jimenez y West has worked on bringing a variety of projects to the campus including: the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American Lt. Gov. of the state of California and an exhibit on the historic town of Allensworth. â€œThe benefit I hope is a broadening and complexity to the historical narrative, but that is up to the campus community to decide,” he said.
Former student of Jimenez y West, Humberto Ortiz, sociology / gender and womenâ€™s studies, says the instructorâ€™s teaching style goes beyond the classroom.â€œHis honest and passionate engagement with students is unparalleled. He has a gift for providing students with tools and advice that allows students to find answers and solutions on their own,â€ said Ortiz. â€œHe has taught me many lessons about carrying myself with integrity and about treating other people with dignity. Heâ€™s a wise [and] genuine man, and those qualities are what make him stand out.â€
In spite of the many twists and turns that Jimenez y West has endured in his day, he passes on some guidance: â€œContinue the river that I got lucky to flow into, passing on and giving people a sense of who they are. Thatâ€™s it,â€ he said. â€œWith rigor, intellectual curiosity, with joy, but not being egotistical about it. Really try to be engaged and connected without making it about you because itâ€™s not about you.â€
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