Sharing Lessons From His Working-Class Parents: A Conversation with Dr. Jorge Juan Rodríguez


Why are students encouraged to move far from home and family, to attend “the best school”? Why aren’t the emotional and physical costs of this disclosed to students and their families? Dr. Jorge Juan Rodríguez joins us to talk about his article, “Lessons From My Working Class Parents,” and the graduate school sacrifices he wouldn’t make. This episode explores:

  • The personal costs first gen students make when they leave family behind.
  • How lived experience can influence your field of study.
  • Why stories from his parents led to his dissertation topic.
  • What led him to prioritize his family and his home life in graduate school.
  • Lessons from his parents.

Our guest is: Dr. Jorge Juan Rodriguez, who is the son of two Puerto Rican migrants. He grew up in an affordable housing community outside of Hartford, Connecticut. His lived experiences in that community influenced his academic work, leading him to degrees in biblical studies, liberation theologies, and a Ph.D. in history where he specialized in the intersections of religion and social movements. While engaging public scholarship and teaching courses in U.S. Religious History, Latinx Religious Activism, and 20th Century Social Movements, Dr. Rodríguez also serves as the Associate Director for Strategic Programming at the Hispanic Summer Program. He consults with institutions of higher education across the country on matters of policy development, grant systems, curricular reviews, social media management, and internal operations. In all that he does, he invites people to critically assess the histories that shape them, the communities that ground them, the challenges of our current systems, and the possibilities of dreaming new systems into existence.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

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Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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