Leading in Laredo: Soto-Vásquez accepts TAMIU tenure-track position
Arthur D. Soto-Vásquez’s journey, to becoming an expert on Latino politics in the U.S., takes a significant step with his latest appointment. Soto-Vásquez, soon to graduate from the Ph.D. program in Communications at American University, has announced he will join the faculty at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, starting this fall.
It’s a journey that began, as is often the case for NHI students, with his LDZ program. It was there, at the National LDZ in 2007 at Loyola University in Chicago, he was first introduced to the concept of Latino identity as something that was flexible and subject to influence by powerful interests. “I had no idea as a 16 year old kid at my LDZ that I would be researching the same topics we discussed at my LDZ 11 years later,” he says.
His current research focuses on the development of campaigns to mobilize Latino voters using digital media. His research took a drastic turn after the 2016 election disrupted many of the commonly held notions about the Latino electorate. Nevertheless, throughout the process of conducting his research at field sites in Washington D.C., Texas, and other places, he has relied upon a network of other NHI alumni doing important work in policy and politics. He expects this research to be completed in late 2018 – just in time for the midterm elections. He also plans to turn his dissertation research into a book.
Soto-Vásquez’s other recently published peer-reviewed research has also focused on U.S. Latino politics and digital media. A recent article published in the Howard Journal of Communications, a top journal in the field of race and media, looked at how the naming and categorizing of Latinos has been used by American presidents to advance their political agendas. His work in the Journal Communication and Media Studies, on the data collection practices of the 2016 presidential campaigns, recently was awarded the International Award for Excellence by the journal.
Soto-Vásquez’s research, as well as his commitment to educating Latino youth on the important issues facing Latinos in the U.S., has led him to his next institutional home at TAMIU. He notes that Laredo is much like the border community he grew up in, and in part because of that, views TAMIU as the perfect destination to continue his research agenda.
“I couldn’t be happier to be at an institution like TAMIU,” he says. “it offers the perfect balance of teaching undergraduate and graduate students while supporting my research. Being on the border will open up many opportunities to do new, important research.
Soto-Vásquez feels that his 12 years of affiliation with NHI, including staffing programs and attending the annual Celebración event, has been vital to his journey. “The lessons of NHI and the network it nurtures are truly life-changing,” he declares.
“Looking back, I see how growing up with NHI trained me to do everything I do now,” he recalls. “At programs, I designed engaging curriculum on the fly, practiced public speaking, and had to learn organizational skills. It’s second nature to me now.”