José González ’89, Ph.D., did not speak English when he emigrated from El Salvador and landed in New London, CT at the tender age of 8. Today, he holds a Ph.D. in English and is a Distinguished Professor of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
A dedicated educator and prolific writer, González began to recognize his calling while completing his Bachelor of Science degree program in Business Communication at Bryant. But he wasn’t always what people expected of an English teacher, he says. “People don’t expect a guy named González to be in the English department.”
But persisting through challenge was already second nature to him; as a young immigrant, he’d had to endure bullying and overcome a language barrier.
“Maybe because my family had to come from so far away, and we had come through so much,” he says, “I wasn’t about to be pushed back. And I still won’t.”
And that was his message to his high school alma mater when he was invited back as a commencement speaker. “Sometimes those negative experiences are what make us stronger. And if your family struggled, you have even more to be proud of.”
“It’s gratifying to see students learn not only through their minds, but through their hearts. When that happens, there’s more potential for them to pass it forward in a meaningful way.”
González, whose biography includes a litany of awards, honors, and recognitions, served as a Fulbright Scholar in 2012, teaching in Barcelona. He is the editor and founder of Latinostories.com, which focuses on Latino literature and provides scholarly resources and recommendations for books by and about Latinos.
What inspires him as a teacher? “In my discipline, ultimately, the subject is people. It’s human nature – our essence. It’s gratifying to see students learn not only through their minds, but through their hearts. When that happens, there’s more potential for them to pass it forward in a meaningful way.”
González earned a Master of Arts in Teaching in English at Brown University before going on to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island. He then served in several English teaching positions before arriving at the Coast Guard Academy, where he has taught since 1999.
Among his many achievements, he is the author of International Book Award Finalist “Toys Made of Rock;” and “When Love Was Reels,” both books of poetry. An international speaker, he has delivered numerous talks and readings and has been featured as a guest on several radio and television programs in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been published in many prestigious literary journals. He also received the Poet of the Year Award presented by the New England Association of Teachers of English.