Introducing new MCGS department head, Sara E. Cooper


Sara E. Cooper, multicultural and gender studies department chair. Photo by Sara E. Cooper

Hannah Yeager

The fight for diversity is a life-long job that has not only recently become a hot topic in the media but has also become something widely fought for in schools nationwide, including us. Sara E. Cooper, the new department head of the multicultural and gender studies department (MCGS) as of January, has expertise in more areas than one that helps take diversity at Chico State to an all new level.

Cooper became a professor at Chico State in the year 2000 working in the international language department. She stayed involved with MCGS throughout her time as a Spanish teacher, teaching courses like Contemporary Latin America, Latina/o and Chicana/o Cultural programs and Gender/Queer studies.

She focused a lot of her class literature around Cuban writers, specifically Cuban feminists.

“I fell in love with Cuba in 1997,” said Cooper, “specifically with the writers.”

Because of her interest, she would continue to use literature from Cuba in her Spanish and Latina/o culture classes. However, a problem occurred with the intellectual and economic embargo that has plagued Cuba for years and has made it “difficult to get books to teach from,” according to Cooper.

In order to fix this problem, she created a non-profit literary press called Cubanabooks. This press has successfully published multiple books from Cubana women like Mirta Yáñez and Nancy Alonso. They publish the books in either English-translated versions, Spanish or bilingual versions that are in both Spanish and English.

“Readers have a right to read and writers have a right to be heard,” said Cooper on further explaining the importance behind starting Cubanabooks.

Not only has this literary press helped students get literature that would not have been easily accessible, it also provides many internship opportunities for students at both the press and the MCGS department itself.

“My interns…They are in the middle of everything,” said Cooper on the involvement of students in her program. This is the first semester that the MCGS has taken in four interns for the department and she is excited to see that number grow in the future as more students get involved.

Now that Cooper is the department head of the MCGS department, she plans to continue the overall vision of the department.

“My vision is that MCGS is the academic space of diversity on this campus,” said Cooper.

Secondly, she plans to implement a new Latinx major that would give students a way to learn and focus more on Latinx culture.

“We need to ask ourselves, ‘How do we best reach out to these students?’” Said Cooper on the inclusivity of her program.

She is also bringing in a new professor, Dr. Shelly Tirado, who will teach classes in the new major.

As well as this, Cooper mentioned that she is currently pursuing a Hmong culture class and working with Hmong educators in order to make that happen.

She expressed that she is elated to see the continuation of student clubs, programs and groups get involved with the MCGS department and Cubanabooks.

“The AS student government, the GSEC and the CCOC are the three student programs that have been so supportive and have helped us get to where we want to go,” said Cooper.

“There is a home for everyone. We want your ideas and we want your energy. We need to work together to protect and celebrate diversity.”