Edward Delgado-Romero, a professor and associate dean in the College of Education, says his ideal student is someone who views the classroom as just the starting point to their learning.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Notre Dame. I also earned master’s degrees from Notre Dame and the University of Memphis.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhodes College. I am a professor in the department of counseling and human development services in the College of Education and also associate dean for faculty and staff. I’m a licensed Georgia psychologist and supervise doctoral students in their therapy work. In addition, I’m affiliated with the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and have developed a course, “Latino Mental Health,” that is sponsored by the COE and LACSI.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 2005 after being a faculty member at Indiana University Bloomington and a clinical assistant professor in the Counseling Center (now the Counseling and Wellness Center) at the University of Florida. My decision to come to UGA was based on the reputation of the College of Education as a place that valued diverse research and had a focus on social justice. In addition, Georgia was where I grew up, and I knew the Latino population in Georgia had grown rapidly. Coming to UGA was a good match for my teaching and research interests.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I’m lucky to teach many different types of courses to different audiences. I teach a mixture of didactic courses and clinical courses to doctoral students, and the focus of these courses is intense, as it should be for the doctoral level. I also teach a split-level class on Latino mental health and enjoy the mixture of graduate students and undergraduates. Finally, I’ve taught in the First-Year Odyssey Seminar program for many years, and I love introducing first-year students to UGA. I teach out of a commitment to the material, and my favorite classes are those where the students focus on the intrinsic reward of learning rather than grades. Classes are just gateways to bigger things, and I like when I form relationships with students that span their careers.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
I’m a lucky person in that I get to have a highlight every year at graduation. Hooding a doctoral student is a thrill because of the enormity of the achievement, and graduation day is my favorite day of the year. It’s wonderful to meet family and friends of the graduate and share in their accomplishment. I love the colors, symbolism and optimism of graduation day.
My research team, BIEN, is a curious and passionate group of scholars that includes undergraduates and graduate students. They provide a constant source of motivation, renewal and inspiration for me through our team meetings, parties, conferences, community service and projects.
How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
My research deals with the competencies and skills necessary to work effectively with Latino people in the United States. The competencies include a wide range of knowledge about culture, and one skill is the Spanish language. Basically, I try to help people lead healthier lives, and in particular those people who are immigrants or somehow marginalized members of society. While many psychologists view helping others in terms of therapy, I have a wider view of what it means to help. I work with the community, have created a national organization and a national journal, and train future psychologists to view their role with the Latino community as more than simply therapy.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Working with clients and patients in the “real world” is a never-ending source of inspiration and knowledge. I learn so much from putting research and theories to the test, and my experiences help me think about what theories and research are applicable. There is so much complexity to bridging the gap between research and practice, but that is why I enjoy being part of a scientist-practitioner profession.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I like to demystify academia and the world of work. Often students will look at the work of influential scholars and marvel at the amazing amount of productivity that they have. I challenge students to remember that every great scholar was once a graduate student, and we all start somewhere. I find myself using the classroom to motivate students and create a place for them to acquire new knowledge and skills and at the same time learn about career development. I hope my classes provide some inspiration and support for students to continue to develop themselves personally and professionally.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is someone who takes responsibility for their learning and development; someone who views the classroom as just the starting point to their learning. I love it when students go above and beyond what is expected, not for a grade but because they are genuinely inspired by the material. My ideal student is curious and wants to be a lifelong learner. They take risks like going to conferences or making presentations. They learn from their mistakes and have realistic self-appraisal skills. The ideal student wants to learn and isn’t afraid to listen and self-reflect. Finally, the ideal student also knows to live a full life and do interesting things in addition to school. Luckily, I work with a lot of those students!
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
My office! My daughters just redecorated my office, and students say they like to visit my office to see the interesting things I have collected or the artwork my kids have made me. It’s important that my office conveys a welcoming attitude toward others, from the safe space sticker on the door to the various mementos from all around the world. Other than my office, I like to walk every day and just be out exploring different areas of campus. I love the energy and open spaces on our side of campus.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
My wife, Angie, and I are very family focused, and our lives revolve around the kids and their interests. I have five children: Javier, Isabel, Nick, Emma and Gil. So, most days I’m attending a concert, performance or class with them. They are very talented and hard-working. I am a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo and also do weapons and grappling at Live Oak Martial Arts along with my kids. I started martial arts in graduate school, and it’s an important way of dealing with stress. I’m also blessed that my in-laws, Takis and Judy Iakovou, live in town and are an active part of our lives.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I started a community bilingual clinic known as BIEN at the Latin American Association in Athens in 2016 and also help supervise bilingual therapy work as part of the IMPACT team at the Mercy Health Center. We provide free bilingual therapy to Spanish speakers and their families. My research team is actively involved in the Latino community, and I have served on the board of the Athens Latino Center (now LAA Athens). In addition, I try to be actively involved in the Clarke County schools. Truly, the administrators, teachers and staff of CCSD work tirelessly to meet the needs of students, and I try to be involved as a parent and community member.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
“Coco” was my favorite movie last year. What a wonderful celebration of Mexican culture that had many similarities to Colombian (my heritage) and Latino culture in general. I was touched by the accurate depiction of cross-generational family ties. And yes, I cried!
In terms of books, I’m currently reading “Chronicles of the Tao” by Deng Ming-Dao on the suggestion of my son Javier. He had the book recommended to him by my doctoral advisor, so you can see the cross-generational theme!
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
Each and every graduation with my students. The moment of the doctoral hooding and the celebrations afterward are a yearly reminder of why I do what I do.