Dr Cristobal “Criss” Salinas Jr.
Title: Associate Professor of Higher Education Leadership and Faculty Coordinator, Leadership Studies, Educational Leadership, and Research Methodology, Florida Atlantic University.
Education: BA, Teaching Spanish, English as a Second Language; University of Nebraska at Kearney; Masters of Education, Student Affairs and Higher Education, Iowa State University; Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, Iowa State University
mentors: “I’m afraid that if I say names I’ll forget names, because there are so many people who have impacted my life. But I want to thank black women because black women have mentored me more than anyone.
Words of Encouragement/Wisdom: “The academy is hard, but create your search and your goal – set and try to accomplish it and find a mentor. Get mentorship from white professors who have a lot of power and seek mentorship outside of your institution.
By most standards, Dr. Cristobal “Criss” Salinas Jr. is a productive researcher. A tenured associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology at Atlanta University in Florida, Salinas has published over 22 peer-reviewed articles and over 27 book chapters and co-edited five books. He is also the founder and editor of the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSCORE).
The accolades for Salinas are numerous, including more than 25 international and national awards for his extensive research focused on promoting access and equity in higher education. An expert on Latinx students in college, the 35-year-old has become a popular media pundit, offering commentary on CNN, NPR, Telemundo and “Good Morning America.”
Born in Mexico, Salinas’ family was devastated after his father was kidnapped by police in a nearby town. The family fled to Nebraska, where Salinas was often the only Latino in middle school and high school.
“It gave me a lot of context to grow up in white America,” says Salinas, adding that he quickly discovered that, despite racism, white educators also emerged as some of his biggest supporters, providing the mentorship whose he needed to progress as a first-generation American student.
“I knew I wanted to have a positive impact on students,” he says, recalling a nasty encounter he had during his undergraduate years when another student threatened him after he announced his candidacy for student government president. The incident was racial.
“It really made me think and think more about the fact that there are more people who look and sound like me and there is no one who defends them and so that is one of the reasons why I wanted to pursue my career in higher education.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Salinas taught for seven months at Alief Elsik High School in Houston, Texas, before enrolling in a master’s program in student affairs and graduate studies at Iowa State University in 2010. He graduated two years later, while working full-time as a multicultural liaison and academic advisor for the College of Design from Iowa State.
Initially, he wanted to become a university administrator, but after completing the Doctor of Higher Education Administration program at Iowa State University in 2015, Salinas focused on becoming a faculty member. .
“I focused on teachers of Latino men. I wanted to become one, so I wanted to understand what their experiences were,” he notes, adding that he never had a Latino instructor in the United States until he enroll in higher education.
Now in her seventh year at Florida Atlantic University, her ambitious research has expanded, focusing more on the term Latinx.
“I think there are many challenges,” he says broadly of the predicament so many Latinx students face in college, including “the lack of support” while pursuing their goals. academics. His decision to pursue a faculty position at Florida Atlantic University was fueled by the growing and diverse Latinx populations in the Sunshine State.
A rising star in academia, he hopes to become a full professor and one day take on administrative duties, all with the goal of helping students of color. “His research is key in helping people address the issue of Latinx/a/o terminology, as he urged us to use the term Latinx more thoughtfully, to explore our own positions and understandings of the term,” says the Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez, Associate Dean. of Equity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University.
Rodríguez notes that, according to Google Scholar, Salinas’ groundbreaking paper on the term Latinx has been cited 330 times and is the most cited paper in the Journal of Latinos and Education.
“Criss’s research on the term Latinx has been instrumental in understanding the history, evolution, and contemporary use of the term in educational research and practice,” says Rodríguez. “His research is impacting scholars and practitioners alike.”
This article originally appeared in the January 20, 2022 edition of Diverse. Read it here.