The President’s Innovation Awards recognize the significant innovation and contributions of faculty, students and staff in advancing the University’s mission and impact.

by Marya Barlow

Nicholas CentinoNicholas Centino, Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies
2020 President’s Award for Innovations in Teaching and Learning

In their nomination letter for the President’s Award for Teaching and Innovation, eight CSUCI faculty members paid Nicholas Centino the ultimate compliment: “May we all be so adept at serving the students in our care.”

Since he joined CSUCI as an assistant professor of Chicana/o Studies three years ago, Centino has made a profound impression on colleagues and students with his fresh, fun approach to teaching and educational equity. He invites students to express their reactions to readings in spoken word poems that build confidence, creativity, activism, and public speaking skills. Centino regularly hosts Facebook watch parties and Facebook Live events, welcoming guest speakers, students, their families, and the public to join in learning and discussion. Pre-pandemic, he and his students organized a two-day conference highlighting the lasting legacy of “Las Pachucas” — a subculture of young zoot-suited Mexican-American women in the ‘40s and ‘50s who challenged conventional notions of feminine beauty  and even helped close the event in a swing dance performance. As COVID hit, Centino earned praise for his exemplary efforts to ease the burden on students of limited means through outreach and asynchronous classes.

“I tried to refocus and meet the needs of the students who were in the same spot I was psychologically, mentally and spiritually,” Centino said.

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