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Dr. Román Liera

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership

Posted in: Spotlights

What brought you to MSU?

I decided to join MSU because of my amazing departmental colleagues, the diverse student population in my program, and the opportunity to shape our new higher education program.
What are you most excited about for this academic year?
I am excited about my students. So far, the higher education students have brought me a new level of energy and excitement that I have not felt before. I have been impressed with how engaged, thoughtful, and caring our students are about equity and justice in higher education.

What was your college experience like?

As a Latinx, first-generation college student from a low-income community, college was a maze. I had to learn, with the support of mentors, how to decode the hidden curriculum. I experienced culture shock during my first week at San Diego State University (SDSU). I felt out of place because SDSU’s dominant White, male, Western culture made me feel unwelcomed. This experience has been the motivation for becoming a faculty member to use my research for change and to empower students who may feel the same way I felt in college.

Did you go to college with the intention of being a professor? If not, how did your path bring you here?

No, I did not attend college to become a professor. I initially wanted to become a high school or community college counselor. When I transferred to San Diego State University (SDSU), I learned about undergraduate research and joined the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Programs – a federally-funded TRIO program. My experience with research and time in the McNair Scholars Program introduced me to graduate school, specifically to Ph.D. programs. I quickly learned that I was good at research, and the impact research can have on policy and practice regarding racial inequalities and injustices in higher education. I decided to become a faculty member because representation matters in the classroom, and I wanted to use my research for change.

What is one thing you wish you had known in your undergraduate/graduate career? Why?

I wish I would have known that failing is part of learning. A growth mindset has helped me understand that rejections and failures are not reflections of who I am. A growth mindset has also helped me be open to constructive feedback that has ultimately played a role in my success.

What are a few of your recent accomplishments?

I got a tenure-track faculty position at Montclair State University!

What advice would you give to incoming students in order for them to succeed?

I would advise incoming students to be open to exploring, to let their curiosity motivate them to take chances and to meet as many people as you can.