Featured Alumna: Dr. Isabel Montemayor

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Dr. Isabel Montemayor (Ph.D. 2014) began her first semester as Assistant Professor of Anthropology this fall at University of Texas, Arlington. Her appointment is in the joint department of Anthropology and Sociology, but also includes appointment as Faculty Research Associate with the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS). Her teaching responsibility includes classes on Medical Anthropology, Latino Health Issues and Global Cultures, but her primary role at the university is research. Dr. Montemayor was excited to join a university with a strategic plan for “Health and the Human Condition” and a strong focus on Hispanic populations, where she would be supported in her pursuit of an active research agenda while teaching smaller-sized classes in her specialty.

Currently, Dr. Montemayor continues the research she began with the Michigan Public Health Institute assessing Medicaid expansion throughout the state of Michigan. Following the completion of this project, she plans to launch a new research project building off of her dissertation, which looked at the intersection of immigration and healthcare policies and their effects on transnational Latino immigrants. While her dissertation focused on urban lives, she will be expanding this focus to address the impacts on rural populations, especially dairy workers. One of Dr. Montemayor’s long-term goals with her research is to change the widespread societal perception that undocumented Mexicans living in the US are a burden, instead showing that they are productive and necessary contributors to society.

While at MSU, Dr. Montemayor was very involved with AGEP (The Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) and took advantage of the opportunities provided by the Graduate School to meet with faculty and other minority scholars. Through the opportunities provided at MSU Dr. Montemayor visited NSF headquarters, attended conferences on diversity, and also received the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship. These experiences furthered her resolve to become a professor. “Those experiences molded me into the researcher and educator I am today,” she explains.

Also important to her development as a scholar were her relationships to faculty she admired and could rely upon for advice. She’s been staying in touch with her mentors in the Department of Anthropology, including Dr. Linda Hunt and Dr. Heather Howard, and they continue to be important sources of guidance on how to be an educator and researcher. “While I was writing my dissertation, our relationship focused on that. But now I consult with them as colleagues and they give me advice,” she says. As a teacher and mentor herself now, she is looking forward to supporting young scholars from disadvantaged backgrounds realize their academic goals. She’s hoping to get involved with the McNair scholars program, as she was a participant herself, and make her research open to collaboration with undergraduates.  

Images, top to bottom: Dr. Isabel Montemayor; Dr. Montemayor (second from left) with the members of the migrant hometown association


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This article is in the Department of Anthropology’s Fall 2015 Newsletter, see the entire newsletter here.