Dr. Joseph Romero, Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion, has been a faculty member at Mary Washington since the fall of 2000. Recently Dr. Romero helped establish a Humanities in Action Internship, partnering with the Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity.
In 2017-18, I had the good fortune to spend a year on fellowship shadowing higher education leadership at San Francisco State University and Rutgers University-Newark. On my return, I joined the board of directors for the Greater Fredericksburg affiliate for Habitat for Humanity, where I struck up a friendship with Cassie Kimberlin, the Executive Director. One of our common convictions was that the particular skillset of humanities majors is too often neglected, and that we needed to give more opportunities to humanities majors to put their principles into action. In this case, how does a student with interests in social justice and a talent for close reading—of texts, of people, of situations—navigate the complicated world of the local economy, real estate market, and politics to make a difference in affordable housing? The result is this internship, which I hope is the first of many of its kind at Mary Washington. Our inaugural intern is Ms. Sophia Maldonado (Classics, Art History ’22).
The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity will be hosting another Humanities in Action intern in fall 2021.
When asked about what he enjoys about mentoring students, Dr. Romero responded:
The joy of teaching is helping people grow. Most of that is already in the student, but our life’s work is to watch closely and facilitate or challenge or just step back and contextualize in the right way, at the right time. The difference between “teaching” and “mentoring,” I think, is that a mentor is less prescriptive and more of a peer, a colleague; mentors work with mentees to strategize, to evaluate choices, to plan futures. That’s the really fun part.
Dr. Romero is also a Mary Wash alumnus: MWC ’93, majoring in Latin. He credits his faculty mentor Dr. Bob Boughner (former Classics, Philosophy, and Religion department chair and professor of Classics, Latin and Greek) for exerting a positive influence on him both personally and professionally.
Editor’s note: Cameron Ashley (UMW Classics and Communications major ’21 and CAS Social Media Assistant) assisted in this post.