HTI Giving Day: Making an #HTIimpact

When you support HTI, you support new programs like the Latinx Scholars First Position Program. Thanks to a grant from the Luce Foundation, this year the HTI summer workshop will also be supporting HTI graduates in their first call after graduation. Navigating the classroom as a student is challenging, but those challenges don’t end at graduation. Read Dr. Peter Mena’s story below about how HTI supported him through a rocky start.

It seems to be common knowledge that the first couple of years in a tenure-track position can be the most difficult for an academic lucky enough to obtain such a position. This certainly was the case for me. I thought that what I had been working toward for so very long had been achieved when I obtained my first tenure-track position. I also felt extremely grateful. I knew, then, as I do now, that so many smart, creative, and brilliant people who worked hard and deserved to be teaching and doing research, were still working hard to obtain a position that afforded them the ability to do this important work. It was this attitude of gratefulness (coupled with being new in a tenure-track position) that kept me from being able to know the difference between the difficulties of being an early-career scholar, and the untenable situation, for me, of being at an institution where you simply don’t fit. I exhausted myself not just with the labor of teaching, research, and institutional commitments, but also with the emotional and psychological work I had to do in order to convince myself that all was as it should be, and what I was experiencing was just the difficulties of being on the tenure-track for the first few years. I was at the end of my rope and beginning to think that if what I was going through was the status quo for early career scholars, that I may not be cut out for doing this work. But I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a community of friends and colleagues through HTI who constantly checked in on me—asking me questions, sharing their stories and giving me advice.

 

It was through these conversations, through the constant care and love of these friends, colleagues, and mentors, that I was able to recognize the difference between the usual labor of early career scholars and the added toll of being irreconcilably mismatched with my institution. Because my HTI familia reached out to me, shared their stories and experiences with me, and took care of me, I was brought back to life. They helped me see that my scholarship and teaching were important and valuable. Leaning on my HTI familia I was able to leave that position and obtain work at an institution that makes me feel grateful for the job, and also respected, valued, and cared for. I can honestly say that today I continue to do the work that I love because I was cared for and guided by my HTI family. Please join me in helping HTI continue the important work of supporting Latinx scholars—not just as they work through the steps of their respective doctoral programs, but also to make lasting and important connections that will sustain them throughout their careers.