Robert Pachecano, M.A.
Adjunct Faculty, General Education (Sociology)
The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
The most critical advice I give to students is to never accept things at face value. Robert Pachecano , Adjunct Faculty, General Education (Sociology) , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
I have come to find a home at The Art Institute of San Antonio. I thought it was going to be a challenge to teach the discipline of Sociology in a creative environment but I come to find that it blends very well in the creative environment of Ai San Antonio. If I can point to a defining moment, it would be when my first term teaching, on the last day of class, some of my students’ final words to me were, “This is the BEST class I have ever taken.” “I learned A LOT.” “You are the BEST instructor I’ve EVER had.” “I didn’t think I was going to make a connection with sociology and ________” (insert graphic design, game art design, interior design, fashion management, culinary, etc.). The impact that I have had on students has been far reaching and rewarding at the same time.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?
I often tell my students on the first day of class that teaching sociology is only one of the many jobs I have had in the community. Along with a career in academia, I have been a social worker and a case manager. I have worked with diverse populations in this area: from single mothers, to survivors of domestic violence, from homeless veterans and veterans undergoing drug treatment, to people coming in and going out of the federal prison system, witness protection, and federal probationers. I very much draw from the experiences and the interactions I have had with different people and this has given me the unique perspectives I take in class. It has also given me ability to be patient and really listen to what people are saying, or trying to communicate to you. Making a connection is often the simplest thing someone can do, to make the biggest impact on anyone you meet and interact with.
Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
If I can point to one particular assignment in my course, it would be the paper and presentation. The paper involves them choosing a current social problem in our society today and they have to incorporate a chapter from the textbook, along with other sources online and research. This allows them to synthesize everything we’ve discussed in class and apply it in some way in the analysis that goes into their paper. THEN, they also have to present their paper to the class as well. Those who are writing challenged are challenged to really focus their thoughts unto paper. Those who are presentation shy are challenged to come out of their shells. These are two skills that students must master before they get out there in real world. They have to be able to effectively present their thoughts in writing AND they have to be able to express those thoughts to other people. I simply use the perspective sociology gives students to help them accomplish this.
I often say, no matter your major: graphic design, game art design, interior design, fashion management, culinary, etc.; you will be dealing with people, as customers, as clients and the like. Sociology as a discipline helps you do this. Understanding the groups people inhabit and the effect groups have on people as individuals gives students, who are future creative professionals an edge no one else has. The most critical advice I give to students is to never accept things at face value. That, the real challenge lies in seeking the real reasons why things happen, why people act the way they do. This is critical because we live in a world now where things are just accepted as truth, because it’s on a website, or someone important said it.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?
I do what I do because of education. Education is many things. Education is empowerment. Education is liberty and liberation. It is a driving force that fuels the future; that enables people to carry on even when the odds, the challenges the barriers seem insurmountable. I am living proof of this. I am proud to say, I am from the westside of San Antonio, born and raised. I come from humble beginnings where sacrifice for education was the mantra; was the mission statement; was the vision. Education above all else was something my migrant worker grandparents and parents instilled in me from the beginning, for two simple reasons. That is the only way you can be truly free, and it is, “the only thing that they can’t take away from you”, as my mother would say.
Education is my mission. Sociology is my passion. Service to others and empowerment fuel my values. This is all I know. It is all I have grown up with, it is what was given to me and what I give to students in class. Because I am still a student (in a doctoral program), being able to relate to students and all they go through is just as important as course material and concepts. I know I have faced the same, exact odds, barriers and challenges. Every day I step into a classroom, I carry all of this with me. I pride myself on being flexible and understanding; but still expect everyone to give all they have to their educational endeavors. This is because this is what was expected of me, not just from teachers and professors, or researchers; but from my family, alive and in heaven now. No matter what you have going on, how bad it seems, how impossible things seem to get; education is the solution to it all. It is what will ensure a brighter future.