Writing the Next Chapter: Solid Foundation Prepares Student for Doctoral Step
With a good, solid bachelor’s degree just about complete, Jorge Tapia-Ortiz is ready to take a piece of Idaho east as he embarks on the next chapter of his studies, a doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Tapia-Ortiz came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 20, speaking no English; but he was determined to succeed. Eventually, he made his way to the University of Idaho to finish his bachelor’s degree.
“I’m not a person who stays in one place for very long,” says Tapia-Ortiz, a Spanish literature and Latin American studies double major. “But I feel the University of Idaho is my university. The location, the degree program and Dr. Guadalupe Perez-Anzaldo really drew me to Moscow.”
Starting with no GPA and unsure of his English language skills, Tapia-Ortiz says it was hard to get his college education started in the U.S., where he took his enthusiasm for his homeland and literature and integrated them into his Idaho experience.
“I always had a passion for literature; the words, the meaning, it’s all very powerful,” says Ortiz. “I really like the feminist writers.”
The history and social issue discourse within the novels really drew Tapia-Ortiz to Latin American writers and encouraged him to broaden his studies to two majors: Latin American studies and Spanish literature. Being bi-lingual, Tapia Ortiz can enjoy the literature in its native tongue and in translation.
“Jorge is constantly seeking new challenges and is highly motivated to achieve his goals,” says Perez-Anzaldo, who served as Tapia-Ortiz's adviser while he was a McNair Scholar. “He is considerate and works well with others, showing great ability in utilizing to the fullest his characteristics to make him an honest student. Jorge is a perfectly bilingual person who has displayed industry, diligence and initiative.”
In addition to his participation in the McNair Research Program, Tapia-Ortiz has been a tutor in the foreign languages and literature department, assisted Perez-Anzaldo in her courses and was a teaching assistant for Spanish 303. Tapia-Ortiz says he enjoys the challenge of learning and is excited to continue that role next year in his fellowship studying Latin American literature.
Tapia-Ortiz also holds a job with University of Idaho Landscape and Exterior Services, strives to be active with several groups on campus and maintains an internship with U.S. Mexico Solidarity Network. Through the internship, he sells fair-trade items made by women in the Zapatista movement and works with groups to spread their message, as well as other related issues such as the Bracero Program and the feminicides in Ciudad Juarez. He also earned the Latah County Rosa Parks Human Rights Award for activism this year.
“I work with a lot of different organizations on campus; I help out where I can,” says Tapia-Ortiz. “I do my best work just talking with people, educating them on a one-on-one discourse. I am always talking with people.”
He also has presented research papers not only at Idaho, but in Washington D.C. and in Mexico, and he organized “The Reality of Plan Mexico” at both the University of Idaho and Washington State University and was the presenter of the conference “Fair Trade Communities in Santa Anita and Chiapas” at both universities as well.
“I personally feel very confident of Jorge’s commitment in pursuing a higher education knowing that he is a terrific and dedicated student who has the character and potential to achieve any of his goals,” says Perez-Anzaldo. “His remarkable performance at University of Idaho, exemplify the promising future he may have as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh.”