Faculty Highlight: Dr. Theresa L. Torres

By Brittany Soto

Dr. Theresa L. Torres is an interdisciplinary scholar who teaches and writes about gender, race, class, and immigration. She is an associate professor at UMKC for Latinx and Latin American Studies and Sociology. She is also an affiliated faculty member for Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and is currently teaching feminist studies.

Dr. Torres was my former professor for my Sociology-Society and Community Service course. Her course was one of the things that further peaked my interest in Sociology and helped me become more aware and knowledgeable about the history of different issues that have happened within our society as well as those that are happening currently in our society today. This included women and gender related issues. She was very good about emphasizing the importance of race, class, gender, and immigration while explaining why each of these things play a pivotal role in how we view and treat others, as well as how we view and treat ourselves. One thing I’ve always remembered about Dr. Torres was how passionate she was when she was teaching each of these topics. She was not only passionate about what she taught, but she also made sure to encourage us students to serve our community by having each of us do an internship project by volunteering at a non-profit organization in order to observe the status of that organization in terms of race, class, and gender, then having us present our findings to the class.

Aside from teaching, Dr. Torres also regularly volunteers her time and work with the Latinx community (as seen in her picture). This picture shows Torres with her Latinx students who presented their research at the 2016 National Association for Chicana/Chicano Conference. She also collaborated with former doctoral students and is in the process of publishing an article from their research titled “Marx, Dea, Theresa Torres, and Leah Panther. “‘This class changed my life:’ Using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogues to Frame Undergraduate Research with Students of Color.” CUR Quarterly: Council on Undergraduate Research.” This article is based on research using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy for teaching Latinx and Black students. Currently, Dr. Torres is in the process of publishing a book on Latina activists and the spirituality and resistance of their leadership. Her first publication on this topic is: “Transformational Resistant Leadership in Kansas City: A Case of Chicana Activism, Racial Discourse, and White Privilege,” Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas En Letras y Cambio Social.” This article is about the leadership of Rita Valenciano, a local Chicana Activist and her leadership to remove and ardent anti-immigrant leader.

One of Dr. Torres’ greatest joys is seeing her former students advancing in their careers and contacting her to share their news and ask for advice. Students are the central reason why she does the research and work she is doing. She is dedicating her new book to her students.