Alumni Spotlight

October 26, 2018

Our distinguished alumni this week is Vanessa de Veritch Woodside.  Vanessa is currently a tenured faculty member at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and is working on developing service-learning courses, as well as partnering with local nonprofit organizations. Read more about her astonishing accomplishments and research.  Thank you for giving back to the community! 

Vanessa de Veritch Woodside earned an M.A. in Hispanic Literature (2007) and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese (2012) at UNM.

“I recently earned promotion and tenure at the University of Washington Tacoma, where I have been an Assistant Professor of Spanish Language and Cultures since 2012. At UWT, I’ve had the unique opportunity to develop and teach a variety of interdisciplinary courses in Spanish as well as Latinx and Latin American Studies courses in English.

My research primarily focuses on representations of the socioeconomic and psychological effects of transnational migration on women and children in Latinx literature and film. I began to develop this work while a grad student at UNM, and have since completed a book manuscript and articles that tackle questions of transnational migration and gender from various disciplinary perspectives, and identify how recent works serve as a counter-discourse to inflammatory anti-immigrant political rhetoric and legislation.

My teaching and research interests, though, are much broader in scope. I also investigate issues of identity, language, cultural mestizaje, narrative subversion, collective memory, and social justice within US-based Chicanx and Latinx literature and art, as well as contemporary Latin American narrative. Thanks to my training at UNM, these themes often appear in my courses to enable students to comprehend the socio-historical contexts in which literary and cultural artifacts emerged, and create connections between texts and their own lives and communities on the local, national, and global scale.

Community engagement is a key pillar of our urban-serving university’s mission, and I’ve received funding to develop service-learning courses. A colleague and I also recently received a Collaborative Publicly Engaged Scholarship grant for a study in partnership with various local nonprofits that serve immigrants and refugees, many of whom have been in detention locally at one of the largest immigration detention centers in the US. The initial ideas to develop such work stemmed from an opportunity I had at UNM to work on a side project interviewing undocumented women regarding their experiences pre- and post-migration.

So much of what I’m passionate about can be traced back to the knowledge, experiences, and personal and professional relationships I developed while at UNM. Thanks to connections I made at conferences during grad school, I’ve hosted various Latinx authors and artists on campus. Ten years after meeting through the Conexiones program, Bethzabé López Peñaloza and I were able to reunite in Tacoma in 2016 to develop Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) experiences for her English students and my Spanish students to interact regularly via video chats and online posts. Who knew that the connections I developed during my intellectually intense time at UNM would result in lifelong friendships? I will always be grateful for the faculty, staff, and peers who not only shaped my experiences at UNM, but continue to have a lasting impact on my personal and professional life.”