“Let your families & communities, not a specific career, serve as guiding reasons for your calling.”
Sergio González, UW-Madison PhD 2018 chose UW-Madison for his undergraduate degree for the following reasons: 1) It is the flagship school for his home state, 2) it has one of the best teacher education programs in the United States, and 3) he wanted to go to a state school that his parents helped fund through taxes.
Sergio first worked as a Spanish-English dual language immersion middle school teacher in Madison, WI teaching science and social studies. During his first year as a teacher, Governor Scott Walker passed Act 10, which stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights and other benefits. Motivated by his own family’s history in labor and immigration activism, Sergio spent a lot of time at the Capitol protesting these anti-union and anti-public education measures.
Once it became clear that Act 10 was not going to be repealed, he decided to pursue his MA and PhD in labor and immigration history. His undergraduate mentor, Camille Guérin-Gonzales, Professor of History at UW-Madison and former Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program director, advocated for him to pursue his advanced degrees at UW-Madison. He chose the UW because it had a top ten graduate history program in the United States and his partner, now wife, was studying at the UW Medical School. While completing his dissertation he applied and was accepted into the Mitchem Dissertation Fellowship program at Marquette University. During his fellowship, he fought to make his tenured track position a reality. Marquette University had recently pledged to be a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), but did not have any faculty teaching Latinx Studies. Sergio pointed out this contradiction, and worked with the university to build a position that emphasized Latinx Midwestern history.
As an assistant professor of Latinx Studies in the Departments of History and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Marquette University he characterizes himself as a scholar-activist.
Sergio educates a variety of students who he hopes will take lessons from his classes and apply them during their professional careers. He took his academic work and published it as a book with the Wisconsin Historical Society Press titled: Mexicans in Wisconsin. He has traveled across the state presenting his work at over 100 community presentations.
After the election of President Donald Trump he worked with Madisionians to restart the sanctuary movement in Wisconsin. He went to churches and synagogues through 2017 to educate them on what sanctuary status means and how to become a sanctuary space for undocumented people. He serves as board president of Voces de la Frontera Action, the 501(c)(4) political advocacy arm of Voces de la Frontera.
His advice for current students and recents alumni is twofold. First, many of us come from working class families and are first generation college students. When life is challenging, draw strength from the history of our resilient ancestors, who have made a home in Wisconsin for over one hundred years. Secondly, when you are thinking about what to do with your future, pick a calling not a career. As the labor journalist Sarah Jaffe reminds us, a job will never love you back. Your community and family should instead serve as guiding reasons for what you commit yourself to.
As for his future, he hopes to continue his work as a professor and researcher and be of service to the community. He also hopes to continue to use his resources to empower members of the Latinx community, especially his students, as they work towards their own self-determination..
If you have any questions you can contact Sergio at email@example.com.