Assistant Professor of Communication Diana Martínez smiles for a faculty headshot for her previous position at the University of Houston in 2017. Martínez said she immediately felt welcomed by the Pepperdine community when she was hired in fall 2018 and loves her job.
Photos courtesy of Diana Martínez
Diana Martínez is an assistant professor of communication at Pepperdine, specializing in rhetorical studies. Martínez grew up in Southern California, completed her undergrad at California State University, Long Beach and then went on to earn a Master’s degree from Syracuse University before finishing her education with a doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin. She said she loves how powerful communication can be and what it can accomplish. Martínez entered college with plans to become an elementary school teacher, but now she can’t imagine not being a professor. She loves her students, and she loves Pepperdine.
Why did you become a professor?
Diana Martínez: Becoming a professor, I think, was a vocation that I wouldn’t have known from the beginning, but I’m really glad that everything that happened led me to it. Now when I look back I’m like, ‘Of course I was going to be a professor,’ but had you asked me this question when I was a college student, I definitely wouldn’t have known how to answer it. I think that one of the reasons I became a professor was because I learned the statistics of Latina female faculty in higher education as professors, and I think at the time it was something like 3%. And so when I learned that number, there was always a reason that was kind of bigger than me. I was like, ‘Oh, I think that’s really important, I wish that I could make any kind of difference if it’s possible. Could I be someone that could enter in this profession?’ So there was a lot of questioning, a lot of doubt, a lot of soul searching, and I think I had to just inch forward with each of those doubts, pray with each of those doubts, talk to my family with each of them and just be OK with not knowing the answer. And now that I’m here I’m like, ‘Well, of course everything I was doing was leading to this.’ But it’s been quite a journey.
How did you end up at Pepperdine?
DM: I had actually thought about Pepperdine a lot before applying for my current position. For me, having gone to Cal State Long Beach and being in the Speech and Debate program, I heard about Pepperdine because I would see that school being represented in tournaments, but even more so I loved the idea of putting together all of the aspects of who you are and being able to bring that into your vocation and into your work, and that being part of your life. I’ve always felt that Pepperdine was just a wonderful school. I’d never actually been up to Malibu from the part of Southern California where I’m from, but by the time I saw the position I was really excited to apply. It felt like applying for college: You know it’s going to be really competitive and you’re just going to try your best, but wow, it’s my dream job. So when I learned that I had an interview, and then when I learned a little bit more about the position and about the University, the more I realized that it was my dream job and that I wanted to be there, and so to be able to come here is wonderful.
What is your favorite part of being a professor at Pepperdine?
DM: My favorite part is always the students. I feel like they give me hope for the future. They soak in the information, and you can just see those moments of, whether it’s cognitive dissonance or whether it’s completely accepting something that they might be reading, I think all of those moments are so productive. My favorite thing is when, let’s say I might have already read an article 10 times, but to see somebody read it for the first time and then have that moment of, ‘Oh wow, I’d never thought of something in this way,’ whether they agree with it or they disagree with it, whether it creates an emotional response or relates to an experience, it is those moments of engagement that really keep me engaged with my students. I might be reading an article for the first time, the 10th time, the 20th, whatever, but in those moments, I am able to learn something new about the subject, to see it in a new way to try to understand what it might mean for somebody who’s going through a particular experience. I know that we have a beautiful campus and there’s no denying that, but without our students? I mean, they’re the ones that make it brighter and even more beautiful.
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