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Alumni Feature

Francisco Ortega Earns Full-Time Teaching Position in the Automotive Technician Program at UEI College

Francisco Ortega

After earning his M.A. in Literature and Writing Studies in 2020, with his thesis, The Rhetoric of Lowriding: A Misunderstood Cultural Movement in the Public Realm, Francisco Ortega now teaches full-time at UEI College.

He is pictured here receiving "Save of the Week" recognition for helping a student whose car broke down in the parking lot. Francisco brought the car into his class and the student was back on the road in two days. 

Read on to learn how his thesis research and TA experience continue to play a role in his work: 

"This new journey in teaching at UEI College certainly begins with CSUSM; I think about my experience and my mentors all the time.  With the help of my committee members, Rebecca Lush, Yuan Yuan, and director, Susie Cassel, I was able to successfully defend my thesis, The Rhetoric of Lowriding: A Misunderstood Cultural Movement in the Public Realm.  I must say that it was an exciting and unique experience to research on a cultural practice I was born into, and that is very special to me.  As I mention in my acknowledgments section, I owe this all to my abuelito (grandfather) who recently passed away.  He showed us the trade and passion to work on cars and enjoy them; thus, when developing my research plan for my LTWR thesis, I knew it would be about the automobile in my culture.  Ironically—or maybe not so ironically, although I studied to become a Professor of English composition, I am now teaching automotive!  During my years of studying at CSUSM, I considered the automotive trade to be nothing more than my living which also afforded me my tuition.  My mind told me I would be teaching English courses and have only a small amount of time to dedicate to cars and working on them.  Little did I know that I would soon have the best of both worlds—be able to teach and serve students (my original goal), and be able to still enjoy my passion for cars! 

Teaching GEW during my Master’s program and now Automotive courses in a post-graduation period have taught me very valuable lessons, two of which I’d like to underscore and further offer my insight on: 1) Education is education, and 2) No student is the same or learns the same.  Both of these concepts are invaluable to me and while they sound negative, quite is the contrary: First, what I mean by “education is education” is that regardless of what an individual intends to study—reading, writing, math, science, automotive technology, medical procedures, history, the list goes on—it is great and powerful that the individual has the will to study, to educate themselves, to learn, and to better themselves.  Thus, as educators, it is my belief that we must treat every subject being taught with the same level of severity and sincerity.  The most effective educators I had (including when I took an AT course at Palomar college) were those who embraced these virtues, and thus it is my goal to do my best at whatever I do, so I can be my best self for the students who I stand before in class.  Finally, no one student is the same as the next, nor will he or she learn in the same way.  Teaching AT has reinforced this concept which I was introduced to back when teaching GEW.  We must humble ourselves and be mindful of the fact that each student brings has their own story; each student has a unique experience and thus brings something unique to the classroom.  By taking a step back, humbling ourselves, and embracing these differences and listening to our students—especially when students express to us that they have a different learning style—we will ultimately be enlightened and given the ability not only to be our best selves, but to be the best guiding mentors we can for our students.  Living by these ideas and practicing them to my fullest potential has resulted, for me, in the most rewarding student-instructor moments.  Hence, my favorite part about holding a teaching position is witnessing the academic and personal growth of the students in my classes.

A message for LTWR students of my beloved home campus of CSUSM: Keep pushing.  You’ve made, and are making the right choice in studying under a powerful major at a great campus.  Don’t be afraid to take risks.  Your hard work and determination will be recognized by your future employers.  You’ve committed to finishing a degree and will finish!  And another thing—after graduation, stay active in your field!  If you’d like to be a teacher, for instance, keep reading and writing!  Apply to your dream position, and apply to positions outside of your comfort zone!  With determination, you will persevere to your dream job, although it isn’t guaranteed for you to land it at the first roll of the dice!  Take me, for instance.  I graduated in August of 2020 and was unsuccessful securing classes at local community colleges in Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021.  I limited myself only to the local, however.  When I found that the pandemic affected the availability of classes, I applied to UEI College at Career Services.  I did so because I wanted to remain serving students and be at the very least adjacent to my field.  By my third month, I was promoted to Automotive instructor, and here I am!  I love what I do, and I plan to teach evening English composition courses in the Fall at local campuses if given the opportunity this time around.  The sweetest part is, while I first I felt a bit disillusioned because I was unable to land a teaching job right after graduation, just as I was promoted to instructor at UEI College I was also offered a full-time English composition teaching position somewhere not as close to home.  I’ll admit, it felt good to know I was actually offered an English-teaching job.  I however made the decision to stay close to home and serve the school that gave me my start!  I repeat, I love what I do.  Sometimes, great things just happen all at once; thus, keep in mind—things will fall into place.  Do your part; continue working hard, and things will work out!" - Francisco Ortega