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BGSU Latino professor headed for Colorado teaching post

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

A popular Bowling Green State University professor who became a fixture in the Northwest Ohio Latino community over the past decade is heading to a new assignment in Colorado, where he hopes to make an even bigger difference in the lives of young people and their families.

Dr. Rubén Viramontez-Anguiano, 43, was honored during an informal luncheon with many of his BGSU colleagues on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. His family also hosted a going-away party at their Pemberville home for friends across the area on Friday evening, July 26.


Dr. Rubén Viramontez-Anguiano


Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano has been hired by the University of Colorado-Denver to launch a new human development program in the fall for a diverse population of undergraduate and master’s level students.

“This whole Colorado thing took me by surprise. It literally came out of nowhere. I never intended to leave BGSU,” he said, relating a story about how a colleague encouraged him to apply or the opportunity and his department chair had mentored him for a long-term teaching career at the university.

“When they interviewed me, I told them I can’t be a traditional professor, just sitting behind a desk, grading papers and doing a good job in the classroom. I said I need to be in the community, interacting with the schools. The folks in Colorado said that’s why they wanted to hire me. They want me to come and do what I did here. It was a tough decision and I’m still pinching myself because this all happened in the last three months.”

His latest community project is a good example of how he takes his personal and professional passions and turns them into public service. He helped to organize a cross-country camp in late June for elementary school-age children from Oregon, Toledo, and rural Wood County. The children learned how to run long distances over all kinds of terrain. The Lake Young Runners Club camp took place at Pearson Metropark.

“The funny thing was, the adults who came and could run had more fun than the kids,” he joked.

Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano ran track in high school. He then earned a spot on a college cross country team as a walk-on. But an Achilles tendon injury cut short his collegiate athletic career.

“It’s been an honor to work here in Northwest Ohio, particularly with the Latino community,” he said. “They really embraced me when I came here as an outsider from North Carolina. I originally am from New Mexico, so this gives me a chance to move closer to my family.”

His wife Sarah Harrison, who also has earned a doctorate, will leave her full-time job at the Toledo Community Foundation. The couple has three sons: Lorenzo,10, Olin, 6, and Marco, 3.

Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano stated he’ll be particularly sad to end his personal and professional involvement with high school-age teens at Toledo Public Schools, as a board member at Adelante, as well as community service work at the Perrysburg Heights Community Association, and the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center. He thanked the leaders at each organization.

“They really took me under their wing when I came here. They really mentored me, to be honest,” he said. “Every person really helped to develop me—not just as a father, but as a person in the community to serve Latino families. A lot of people just really went out of their way to help me work with Latino families and children—and these last few years have really been a positive experience.”

Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano also credited his colleagues in higher education at BGSU, as well as the University of Toledo, for his success. He is well-known for mentoring and helping to keep Latino college students on the right path toward a professional career.

He took a sabbatical in 2010 to work with Latino children, families, and schools in the   Goshen, Indiana area through a college there. He has also spent parts of the last three years continuing that work there.

“I wanted to understand things from a service side and a research side,” he explained. “It was almost like a testing ground for all the skills I have learned. All the Latino leaders here in Northwest Ohio really prepared me for when I went to Indiana. I really knew how to how to work in the community with different leaders in the schools because of all that training. It’s not like I went to class; it was just natural training to work in the community.”

Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano was an associate professor of human development, family studies and early childhood education in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, which is part of the College of Education and Human Development at BGSU. Much of his research while there focused on Latino families and their interactions with their communities, educational systems, and minority health issues.

In 2009, the BGSU Human Relations Commission awarded Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano with its annual Miguel Ornelas Human Relations award for “his energetic commitment to creating both a climate in which multicultural students and faculty can succeed and widespread multicultural awareness.” The award is named in honor of Dr. Miguel Ornelas, a former Human Relations Commission member and director of affirmative action at BGSU before he passed away in 1989.

Just a year later, Dr. Viramontez-Anguiano received the Diamante Latino Adult Professional award in recognition of his previously-mentioned community service, as well as his contributions to the Children’s Resource Center in Bowling Green and Ohio Migrant Education Center. He also received the prestigious Silver Slate Award from Toledo Public Schools for his to service to Latino children and youth in the Toledo area.

“I appreciate what people did here. It’s just an amazing collection of Latina and Latino individuals and I appreciate the fact that they let me join them,” he said. “Yes, we worked hard to get kids scholarships, get them to college and toward a career. But if I want to be remembered for anything, it’s just that all these volunteers in Northwest Ohio allowed me to be one of them. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s how I feel—because people really embraced me.”

In 2006, Dr. Viramontez Anguiano was selected by Latino leaders to serve as an expert presenter on his research and work with Latinos and education to the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. He advocated that a lack of opportunities and acceptance surround Hispanic children.

“The reality of it is that these children are caught between two worlds,” he told the commission then, explaining that Latino youth are hit with American social influences while being encouraged to maintain their own culture and language, “even if it is Spanglish.”

He emphasized education as the way for Latino youth to take a place at the “social table” in their communities: by graduating college and allowing themselves to become residents and tax-paying citizens who are part of the middle class.

Dr. Viramontez Anguiano is known as much for his academic research and writing as much as his advocacy. He is the president of the Ohio Council on Family Relations and serves on the board of the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, a publication for which he has written and edited numerous articles. 

He also has been published in the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Journal of Family Issues and other scholarly journals and books.  A paper he authored that was published in the Journal of Family Issues on diverse families and schools was recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project in 2005.

 

Copyright © 1989 to 2013 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/30/13 19:54:20 -0700.

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