Bringing the Best & Brightest

UCSD is home to the Center for US-Mexican Studies. The center strives to lead the way in social science research and economic and social policy on Mexico and U.S.-Mexican relations.

While visiting Vancouver, Canada this past weekend, I spoke to a Ph.D. in resource management and environmental studies from the University of B.C.

If my conversation with Raul Pacheco-Vega is any indication, to academics in the field of Mexican studies, the Center at UCSD is a mecca. He gets positively giddy with the idea of doing his post-doc work for this center.

Raul was born in Mexico and received his first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, at a university in Mexico. He continued his education with a masters in engineering focused on Advanced Technology Management in Vancouver at UBC, where he also received his Ph.D.

He’s a prolific blogger, is a top 10 Twitterer in Vancouver and a very successful social networker. I’m really blown away by his intelligence but also how he’s using social media tools to engage people–he may be a wonk when it comes to his research but not in his communications. And, he’s very generous with his knowledge.

But my point is, San Diego’s academic institutions and its leadership in things like Mexico-US studies as well as so many other topics have the ability to draw extremely intelligent, passionate and capable people to the region. But people like Dr. Pacheco looking at San Diego from a distance feel wary about the quality of life trade offs when, for instance, the state passes laws like Prop. 8 but its leaders can’t even pass a budget. That stuff sends a message to people like Dr. Pacheco that culturally and politically this region is too conservative, too distracted by things that really shouldn’t matter in order to manage and cope with the things that truly do–or at least that’s my opinion and my concern.  

I am certain that our region could benefit from more people like Dr. Pacheco here who are smart as hell and, even more important, able to involve the rest of us in their work and share their knowledge in a way that’s fun but enlightening. I just hope that their perceptions of California culture and quality of life aren’t a turn off.

Oh, and his two brothers are Ph.D.s as well and teach in the U.S. They encourage him to make the move because they love this country too, of course, for all the same reasons that you and I do–despite the fact that they are sometimes on the recieving end of prejudicial comments on sites like RateMyProfessor that can bring out the worst of anonymous Internet commentary.

If you want to connect with Raul on Twitter, he’s @hummingbird604. If you’re reading this and are on Twitter, send him a shout-out and tell him San Diego wants more people like him.

And if you’re on Facebook, and want to know what’s happening at the UCSD Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (which is a lot), join its Facebook group at stay up to date on events and guest speakers.

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