Profile: Professor Elena Escalera

COLLEGIAN: Sept. 4, 2011

By Elizabeth Novotny

After an eight-month sabbatical, Professor Elena Escalera has stepped back onto the Saint Mary’s campus with new ideas and refreshed energy. Escalera, an associate professor of psychology, describes her job as “fun,” and says, “I never say, ‘I don’t want to get up today.’”

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Escalera attended California State University at Long Beach for her undergraduate degree, where she first started as a pre-medicine major.

After ultimately completing her undergraduate in psychology, Escalera attended the University of California, Berkeley where she received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology with a focus on cognition.

While at Berkeley, Escalera was a teacher’s assistant at Saint Mary’s and began teaching full time at the College in 1996. Before taking Sabbatical, Escalera was Chair of the Psychology Department for two years.

On campus, Escalera has served on the student Academic Honor Code and on the first student Academic Honor Council – she holds the record for number of cases heard at 46.

This semester she is teaching three classes: Health Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, and first year advising. Her favorite classes to teach are Collegiate Seminar, because of the open structure, and Cross-Cultural Psychology.

When she is not teaching, she is researching the psychology of linguistics with a focus on pragmatism. She has been published several times in The Journal of Pragmatics.

Born under Cancer, a water sign, Professor Escalera can be found adventuring near the ocean in her spare time. Her favorite hobbies include Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) scuba diving, night fishing, and simply swimming laps.

From Mexican-Indian and Caucasian descent, her office is adorned with storyteller masks from the southern Indian tribe, Yaque. She also enjoys traveling.

Escalera offers these words of advice to students as they embark on this next year of education: “Take chances to do what you want, and live the life you want to make for yourself.”



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