My UMR with Angie Mejia - Civic Engagement Faculty

Authored By: mknutson 12/09/2019

Anjie MejiaHow did you hear about UMR/What brought you to UMR?
As I was finishing my PhD, I wanted to find a place that would allow me to research and to teach the subjects that I have the most passion for, which include social justice, community-engaged learning and feminist theory. I also knew I needed to find an institutional home that fostered collaboration and collective knowledge creation. UMR’s emphasis on small-classes and high-quality teaching drew me in. After my interview, I knew in my heart that UMR was the place for me, so the wait to hear back from UMR was almost painful. I had other job offers, but none could measure up to what UMR was offering me -- great students, dedicated colleagues and a unique social environment.
What is your role at UMR?
I have a dual role here – I am tenure-track faculty but also UMR’s Civic Engagement Scholar.  As a faculty member, I am in charge of teaching CLI 2522 (Community Collaborative), conducting research on both teaching and learning and collaborating with other faculty members who teach community-engaged learning classes. As a Civic Engagement Scholar, I tap into my expertise in community-based participation and action research to help UMR foster sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships and initiatives. I am able to mentor students as they contribute their skills to community-partnered projects to improve health (individual, social, community) in various Rochester groups.
Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I never thought I would be a professor. My BA was in Bio-Anthropology. During my senior year, I landed a job as an archeological field and lab technician for the USDA. After a year of working outdoors, oftentimes alone or with the same group of people, I knew that I learned more about society directly from people than from studying artifacts that a culture left behind. I went to work as an activist and community organizer while getting my Masters and then my PhD in Sociology. By the end of my first year as a PhD student, I knew that my passion was teaching while learning from others in the community, working towards the betterment of society.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Each morning, I look at my social media for two things that are sure to motivate and energize me: Examples of people and groups working towards building a more just world and cats inhabiting spaces where they do not belong but make these spaces their own no matter what anyone says. I look for posts about cats in breweries, restaurants, boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops, bodegas (NYC corner stores), office spaces, boats and more. I am always happy to get cat memes via Twitter @angiemejiaprof.
What is one interesting fact about you that you want others to know about you?
I used to be very introverted and quiet as a young girl. Can you imagine that? 
What advice do you have for UMR students during their time here?
Students at UMR come from a generation that bears the burden of climate change and other societal issues borne out of political ignorance, greed and oppression. You are now tasked with planning your individual, as well as a collective future, in light of these injustices. Your role as future health science professionals is to heal; not just the physical body, but the social body as well. This work takes place outside the clinical encounter and often happens collectively and in a communal space. So, UMR students: go and heal society by working with others who are fighting, resisting and transforming the world for the better.