JAVIER JIMÉNEZ

Welcome, Hoyas! I hope you’re having a great summer and getting ready for your new life at Georgetown College. Here at the College Dean’s Office, we’ve been getting to know some of you and can’t wait to meet you all in person in late August.

Many of you will be moving to a big city for the first time, and I can certainly identify with both the sense of adventure and trepidation that comes with anticipating new changes. In fact, more than anything, my life has been a series of changes. You see, I was born in the Dominican Republic—in a coastal city called Puerto Plata—and came to this country when I was 10 years old. Since that first monumental transition, I’ve lived in big cities, small towns, and many places in between.

When I first came to this country, I lived in the neighborhood of Elmhurst in Queens, New York City, where I learned English and fell in love with reading comic books. A couple of years later, my family moved to Springfield, MA, where life slowed down considerably, and I had to learn how to use the word “wicked” virtually all the time. I went to high school in Springfield and returned to New York City for my undergraduate degree at Columbia University.

My experience at Columbia was transformative: the curriculum there is in many ways similar to Georgetown’s, and my days were spent thinking about and discussing ancient philosophy and Western literature, art, and music. I studied history and social science, and even though I was not a science major, I learned about the philosophy of science (I also learned what would happen to the temperature of the Earth if it were covered in white daisies). And the world quite literally opened up to me: I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in the Dominican Republic, a homeland which I now experienced in a radically different way than I had before.

Columbia amplified my love of learning, of culture, and of wanting to be of service to others. My time after college has taken me in all three of these directions: I have been a social worker, an avid consumer and critic of (popular) culture, and a scholar. I did all these things while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I learned that relaxing does not preempt working hard and that listening is more important than talking. I also replaced the use of “wicked” with “hella.” While in the Bay Area, I earned an MA in English Literature, after which I entered the PhD program in Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. I, thus, became a teacher of writing, literature, and foreign language (Spanish).

After earning my PhD, I taught Latin American literature and culture, as well as Spanish, at a small liberal arts college in rural Ohio. I loved being a professor, but after a while I suspected that it was not my best destiny. Why? Quite simply, I couldn’t be of service in the ways that are important to me. I thought long and hard about my values and how I could live them more authentically. That journey led me here to Georgetown, where I get to use my academic knowledge and experience to be of service to you, our undergraduates in the College, participate in an exchange of ideas about how to support students and the contours of higher education in the U.S., and immerse myself in the cultures of Georgetown and DC.

I’m looking forward to meeting you during New Student Orientation and helping you through the different transitions you’ll experience in the coming years.