Coming Home to Roost

Article excerpt

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It all came full circle for Dr. Victor Saenz when he found himself teaching a class he once took as a student at the University of Texas at Austin. The thought of being an academic had once intimidated him, but while standing at the pulpit on his first day, his fears quickly subsided, and a calm overcame him.

"It just felt right," says the 38-year-old associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration at UT Austin.

Last year, Saenz even got a chance to look back at the career path that took him from earning a bachelor's in mathematics and master's in public affairs at UT Austin and a master's and Ph.D. in education at the University of California, Los Angeles. He did so in an article he co-authored with another alum-professor, Dr. Richard Reddick, in the Harvard Educational Review. "It gave us the opportunity to do an autobiographical reflection on our journey back to our alma mater, which is a very unique journey that I had and that he had," he says, of "Coming Home: Hermanos Academicos Reflect on Past and Present Realities as Professors at Their Alma Mater."

Acknowledging his struggles at an institution as a person of color, yet espousing an appreciation for it, too, Saenz says there is nowhere else better to be doing research on Latino educational male attainment than the Lone Star state. "There has not been a definitive body of research about this population of students," says the tenured faculty member who also serves as an affiliate for the UT Center for Mexican American Studies and an associate with the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute. "It's coming at the worst possible time --when [the Latino population is] growing so fast," he adds.

This, for him, has been a call to action. In the fall of 2010, the second-generation college graduate launched Project Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success (MALES), an initiative that focuses on research on the complex experiences of Latino males in higher education and a mentoring project that works to build a support network for Hispanic males in central Texas. …