Professor Christina Jimenez on juggling her many obligations

Between traveling in Columbia to research Mexican history archives, teaching at UCCS and being a mom of two high schoolers, Christina Jimenez’s days are full. Jimenez has taught in the history department for 23 years and is active both on campus and in historian circles.

Currently, Jimenez is abroad for eight weeks with the U.S. Scholar in the Fulbright Fellowship Program researching Colombian history from 1880-1930 at the University of the Andes in Colombia. Her work centers around Mexican urban history, but during this trip, she is taking a comparative view of Colombian urban history.

Jimenez reviews archives she describes as “old, crusty, dusty books” full of government and citizen documents. She is investigating the ways urban residents used the public spaces of the cities, like parks, sidewalks and plazas to sell and work for their living a century ago.

Jimenez’s book “Making an Urban Public: Popular Claims to the City in Mexico, 1879-1932” is a winner of the Outstanding Academic Title from the 2019 CHOICE Awards.

Her love of history grew from her Mexican heritage. “I’m a Mexican American … My grandparents were from Mexico. My grandparents were very proud of their homeland,” Jimenez said. “I always grew up with stories and the history of Mexico, a certain kind of cultural pride.”

As director of internship in the UCCS history department, Jimenez has developed a course that helps her students connect to the Colorado Springs historian community by interning at a museum for the semester.

“It’s really very gratifying and important to connect with our kind of local community,” Jimenez said. “It’s really a wonderful experience because it demonstrates to them how all of these skills that they’re learning in history are so applicable to just a range of organizations, even if they’re not historical organizations.”

The students present their internship presentations and a tour at their respective museum space at the end of the semester to the UCCS history department and any willing to join.

Jimenez got her undergrad BA with a double major in history and Spanish from Georgetown University and became interested in the political sphere. While pursuing her doctorate at the University of California San Diego, she helped unionize graduate student workers in the 1990s. This was an enlightening experience for Jimenez as she learned how to use both protest and negotiation to create change.

“There’s the work in terms of protesting what’s happening when you take to the streets, like big demonstrations or work strikes. That can be effective, but you also need to have a mode of transition to collaborating and making change,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez brings this lesson of change into her involvement on campus, taking part in the Chancellor’s budgeting community. She says that creating more transparency around the university’s budget is a big job.

Jimenez also assisted with curricular changes at UCCS such as the introduction of the Women’s and Ethnic Studies program, and the addition of a vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Christina Jimenez. Photo via UCCS website.

“Many colleagues, staff and faculty and some students just really are working to make the case of how important a diversified curriculum is, particularly in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, social class, but also how important generally DEI issues are to the way that we function as a university,” Jimenez said.

As a spouse and mother of two high schoolers, Jimenez balances her work with her familial responsibilities. She said she and her kids have been Face Timing while she travels. “I have to multitask all the time as a mother and a wife. I’m always trying to kind of provide whatever support and guidance I can as a parent,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez has a packed schedule, but her dedication to all areas of her life is what shapes her outlook. She believes different perspectives help contribute to knowledge, and the duty of a campus community is “to try to educate themselves, educate others and create spaces where we’re really learning from people who are different than we are.”

“[My work is] really about embracing the idea that we all have unique experiences, and if you really learn to listen to someone … then you just gain a broader knowledge of the world yourself,” Jimenez said.

“Making an Urban Public” in the Kraemer Family Library. Photo by Meghan Germain.