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Professor returns to UTEP to impact students

Professor Jose D. Maldonado is a UTEP graduate and is now a full-time professor who has spent five years teaching communication classes. Photo courtesy of Professor Jose D. Maldonado

Entering as a nervous freshman in 2010, a professor whose roots and identity are tied to a university that has stood by his side all these years, Professor Jose D. Maldonado, a UTEP graduate, owes his success to the university. 

Graduating in 2015 with a communication studies degree, Maldonado stayed at UTEP to pursue his master’s degree in 2017 and considers those years influential. 

“It was more than I expected that it would be, I loved my undergraduate experience that’s why I am still here,” Maldonado said. “I miss it sometimes because I had great professors, I had a lot of professors in the communications department as well that were super impactful and now, they’re my colleagues.” 

Working across his boss‘s office, Richard Pineda, Ph.D., someone he once called professor, now comes full circle as Maldonado considers Pineda as someone who helped guide and mentor him through his education and someone he admires. 

“I put him through so much during my two years in my master’s program because I was just not getting it and he stood by me, so he definitely mentored me and till this day, he has still been there, and I appreciate a lot on what he has done for this department,” Maldonado said.  

Maldonado, a full-time professor has spent five years teaching communication classes, he never felt ready to leave UTEP after getting his bachelor’s as he considers UTEP to be home and part of his identity. 

“I felt it was too soon, like I wasn’t ready and another thing that Dr. Pineda said that resonated with me, is that coming to school for another two years buys you time, to decide what you want to do in case you’re not ready after your bachelors,” Maldonado said. “I loved the environment here, the community, is just a big part of my life and identity, and I know people have different experiences, they can‘t wait to leave but wasn’t the case for me, I had much more to learn.”  

Though Maldonado loves to teach and enjoys engaging with his students and building personal connections, being a professor was not something that Maldonado wanted to do or was on his mind growing up. 

“What I wanted to do was be on the radio, I had this voice since eighth grade, and I remembered that I loved music and listening to the radio, and I was like you know what I can definitely do this as a career,” Maldonado said. “I worked at KTEP and Kiss-FM for about six years and I thought that is what I wanted to do with my life but as I got older experiences changes, especially when I went to grad school.” 

Being a teaching assistant for Pineda during his first year of graduate school opened many doors for Maldonado to get a feel for teaching. This experience helped Maldonado teach his own courses during his second year of graduate school. 

Passionate about teaching, Maldonado’s endeavors at UTEP did not ends as soon, as he landed a job in 2017 as an adjunct professor teaching public speaking. Stepping into classrooms where he once sat and interacting with colleagues who were once former professors was quite an adjustment for Maldonado. 

“When I was first here it was weird because I was like ‘I am here, what do I do? Am I doing this correctly, are they judging me because I was just a student and do I deserve to be here, do they think I’m not qualified enough to be here,”’

 Maldonado said. “After my third year I was more cemented like yeah, I do belong here and I’m glad that I am here, and I continue to work to make sure that I bring value to this department.” 

Inspired by his students, Maldonado started his Ph.D. education program at UTEP. Despite being raised by a single mom and growing up in a household surrounded by women, he will always be grateful for what UTEP has given back to him as it has changed his life. 

“I’m very proud to be from UTEP, we are very prestigious at least when it comes to research, and UTEP has produced a lot of graduates, but it has changed my life and that’s why I make it a part of my identity because I wasn’t the best kid growing up,” Maldonado said. “When I got to UTEP it really changed me because this was the life that I want and if it wasn’t for UTEP I don’t know what I’ll be doing so I’m really grateful.” 

Erik Acosta is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta, Web/Copy Editor
Erik Acosta is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in theatre. Erik started working at The Prospector as staff reporter spring 2023, and now serves as the web and copy editor.
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Professor returns to UTEP to impact students