By Remigia Amparo Bermúdez
Cristina Gómez is and will always be a phenomenal mother and phenomenal human being. Last month, Dr. Cristina Gómez, Ed.D., SDSU professor of B-CLAD Bilingual Teaching Credential and Master of Arts programs, passed on, leaving a legacy within each one of us who had the privilege to know her as a friend, family member and/or professional colleague (adults, children, educators and academicians).
It is fitting to pay tribute to a person who, by the virtue of her love for educating our children, is an example of fortitude and nurture for her daughters, family, friends, elementary and university students as well as teachers. Her love and dedication centered on empowering teachers and teachers-to-be with knowledge so that we will pass on to all the passion and knowledge for literacy development, literacy intervention, bilingual education, parent partnerships, multicultural education and parity in education and opportunities for all.
Reaching the children at an early age while valuing their culture and turning them into literate, positive members of society is what Dr. Gómez is about. Dr. Alberto Ochoa, Chair of SDSU Policy Studies (“PLC”) Department, remembers Dr. Gómez with these words, “Dr. Cristina Gómez, in her lifetime, was committed to making literacy the power of language an essential activity for seeing, interpreting, understanding and changing the world and, indeed, in creating it. She gave bilingual children and adults the gift of naming their world, the right to define how each saw oneself and the rest of the world, and the possibilities of realizing their world through their biliteracy”.
Dr. Gómez leaves us with a great responsibility to educate our youth and provide them with literacy tools for survival and knowledge to achieve in life and society. The poem, “YO SOY CRISTINA”, written by Dr. Cristina Gómez, demonstrates the type of person that she was, the legacy that she leaves in each one of us, and the spirit of perseverance and love for life that she instilled in us. Dr. Gómez earned her B.S. and M.S. in Nursing from USD (1983, 1988), her Ed.D. in International/Multicultural Education with emphasis on Second Language from USF (1993). She possesses over 7 years in the Reading Recovery Program. Dr. Gómez was a resident of San Marcos, California.
Oftentimes, I shared my privilege of knowing Dr. Gómez with my niece, Myra Reichel, who lives in Germany. You would think that she, too, knew her well. I shared with my niece the awe that I experienced with Dr. Gómez when I was her student in bilingual reading strategies for elementary school children. I, too, shared with my niece our loss. To her family, friends and colleagues, I leave you with my niece’s words: “It is a good time to pass on for this is the time of the year when the Wesahk Festival is observed. Buddha and Jesus and many others get together to pray and dance for God’s beautiful creation. Maybe we can picture Cristina someplace near Tibet where the pilgrims have gathered, and she’s having a good time. I’ll be putting out my bowl of water. My bowl isn’t fancy crystal but the water is from the heart.” Dra. Gómez lives in us!
SDSU’s Policy Studies Department commemorates Dr. Gómez at its May 15th graduation ceremony at Moctezuma Hall, Student Union, 4 to 7 p.m. Furthermore, the PLC Department requests your donations of children’s books to establish a library in San Marcos in Dr. Gómez’s honor. Please bring your books to PLC graduation or to the PLC Department at SDSU.
(Remigia Bermúdez, a free lance writer, possesses her B-CLAD credential. She owns and operates RemyLinks, a consulting firm whose motto is “responsible government for healthy communities”.)
Yo soy Cristina
I am the sixth child born to poor
humble family of ten …la familia Gómez
I am their past, their present, their future.
I am the one who escaped the jaws of
death not once but twice.
Rescued from drowning in the ocean
at the age of two.
Sewn back together at age eleven
after a near fatal accident.
I am Cristina
I am the precocious twelve-year-old
picking vegetables alongside her mamacita
I am the quick learner of life’s lessons
as mother, life, the world instructs.
I am the avid lectora who makes
a conscious decision
to study, estudiar, study.
Yo Soy Cristina
I am the caballo salvaje who’s constantly
challenging rules and expectations.
I am the one told to settle for office skills by
a counselor of my raza.
I am the one reminded by
my future suegro that
I am too ambitious for his son.
My future husband cannot help.
I am Cristina.
I am the eager one who wanted
to cure the ills of the world and be a doctora, and instead
I am the caring, quick-thinking nurse exploding with adrenaline in that moment of need. I am the novice in a mental health clinic
identified by the gay community as someone who will listen.
I am the one who responds to my suegra
with a smile as she asks “Don’t you fear la locura?”
Yo Soy Cristina
I am the frustrated school nurse who
finds her niche in the classroom as
I discover the joy of teaching.
I am the bilingual teacher who struggles
searching for equality for her people.
I am the facilitator of literacy,
the validater of culture,
the teacher of technology
as families embark with me on a joyous journey of the printed world.
I am Cristina
I am the lifelong learner
traveling paths which I am helping to form.
I am the rebelde questioning
the status quo.
I am the one who refuses
to sacrifice philosophical principles
for the almighty dólar.
Yo soy Cristina.
I am the composite of my total experience.
I am educadora, nurse, liberator of my soul.
I am the willing experimenter of the
I am Cristina