STORY BY: CAMILA LEON
Jose Moreno is a Professor and chair of the department of Chicano and Latino Studies at CSULB. He was born in Mexico but raised in Oxnard, California. Moreno later studied at UCI and got his Masters and PhD from Harvard University. Most recently, Moreno has been elected as a Councilman for the City of Anaheim and honored as a New American Hero for the work he does promoting successful individuals from immigrant backgrounds.
What is your guilty pleasure?
“Video games. Madden ’18, NBA 2k18, FIFA. It’s how I wind down. I always play the Raiders, I feel guilty if I don’t. I play franchise mode in 2K and Mexico in FIFA.”
Do you ever check your ratings on rate my professor?
“I do, I do, man. Not all the time, but when students bring it up.”
What’s your favorite thing about CSULB?
“Hands down, the students! A lot of my students have never been pushed to think about who they are or what their purpose is. When I engage with them and they start to realize their potential, it’s amazing, their minds start to open up. I love that.”
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
“Wednesdays. I belong to this advocacy group called Los Amigos, and we get together on Wednesday mornings to help out people from the community. I also like Saturdays because I get to spend it with my family.”
What’s the best way to study for one of your classes?
“Pay attention. Everywhere. Just pay attention. My classes are focused on education, and everywhere you go there are teachable moments. Everywhere you go you’re learning.”
Batman or Superman?
“Superman. Batman depends on wealth. Plus Superman is an immigrant, so I can relate.”
Favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
“Anywhere I’m with my kids, my wife, my brother, sister and parents. That’s my favorite place.”
Who inspires you?
“My family. My parents. Being undocumented, coming to this country and having to confront everything on our own and having to worry about immigration. I just don’t know what is more inspiring than that.”
What’s it like being City Councilman?
“It’s tough, but it’s exciting. It feels really cool to ask the questions no one was willing to ask before. It’s difficult because it’s time consuming, but if you really want to make a difference in people’s lives, it takes a lot of work.”
What made you run for City Council?
“The frustrations in our city. The lives of people like my family. You can’t improve the quality of education without improving the quality of the lives of the kids and neighborhoods. You have to invest in that.”
What did it feel like being honored as a New American Hero?
“That was really crazy. I don’t like the hero part, but the whole idea that immigrant communities are affirming each other is really cool.”
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
“Making my parents proud is huge for me. Living out their dream. Having four daughters who feel like they own the world. And feeling free!”
What would you say is the biggest issue that the Latinx culture is facing at the moment?
“With all the drama with the president and people imposing who we should be, staying focused on who we want to be in the world is very important. Making sure we’re looking after the dream that we all represent.”
What advice would you give to anyone trying to pursue a degree in higher education?
“Know your purpose, have a purpose and let that purpose guide you!”
What made you choose teaching over another career?
“It’s a space to be creative, think and transform. It provides the opportunity to become more human.”
Do you remember the first election you ever voted in?
“Yeah, I became a citizen in 2000, so it was the election of 2000. George Bush vs. Al Gore.”
What is your opinion on protests? Do you think they help make a change?
“Change does not happen without protest. The most impactful social change has come from protest. So absolutely, protest is absolutely necessary to promote positive, inclusive change.”
Even though you’ve already accomplished so much, do you have any other goals or accomplishments you would like to pursue?
“A lot, but it varies. In City Council I want to see affordable housing develop in our city. I want kids to have the luxury to just dream without having to worry about seeing their parents stressed about money, immigration status, safety. I want there to be more places where kids and bullies feel valued and validated. Personally, I want to watch and support my family follow their dreams.”