Karen R. Tellez-Trujillo

Assistant Professor, Cal Poly Pomona
Karen R. Tellez-Trujillo

Karen Trujillo, a woman with medium-length dark brown hair, standing in front of a stucco building, near trees with yellow flowers.

Dr. Karen R. Tellez-Trujillo is an Assistant Professor at Cal Poly Pomona. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and in Women’s Studies, as well as an MA in Rhetoric and Professional Communication and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication. Karen contributes to her department in unique ways that reflect her many intersections. She comes to teaching with the experience of being a teen mother, a young business owner, a woman with a chronic illness, a Chicanx feminist, and a lifelong resident of the Borderlands in which she is nepantla (Anzaldua), residing in many locations at once.

Karen has been involved in over 10 publications and 23 presentations for research, which have been recognized internationally. Her dissertation, titled “Enactments of Feminist Resilience: Rescripting Post-Adversity Encounters through Pause and Reflection,” is a qualitative study centered on the analysis of interviews, her participant-observer role, and student writing in the composition classroom.

As a woman of color who has recently moved from the student position at a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) to a faculty position at an HSI, she brings a background of experiential knowledge. Her conference expertise lies in the varying anxieties she has confronted when applying for and attending conferences in varying geographical locations and with diverse groups of scholars. You can learn more about what Karen teaches and her interests at www.karentrujillo.com.

Presentation: "What Am I Doing Here? When Conference Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Conference Inclusion

Date: Thursday, April 22, 12:30-1:45 pm EST

Description: At a large summer seminar in the Midwest, I marveled at the sea of faces in which I could find only one other Hispanic participant. Were we not applying, or not being accepted? If we weren’t applying, why was that? Could there be that many poorly written submissions by people of color? 

Let’s face it, students and faculty of color are outnumbered at conferences. Sometimes this is because there are limited funds to travel and universities are not willing to help, or there are limitations to the distance and time it takes to pull non-traditional students away from home for a conference. When the student or faculty member is present, however, there should be approaches in place to keep the participant from feeling as if they left their homes and paid to be excluded. One of the many ways people of color are excluded at conferences is when the presenter feels uncomfortable enough to not want to participate again. This comes in the way of poorly attended panels, aggressive commentary dressed up as a question, and not seeing any others “like you” among the names in the program or faces at the tables. Among my recommendations is the obvious request that more students and faculty of color be accepted to conferences and that calls for proposals not be written in such a way that it requires a series of meetings to decode what a conference call is truly asking for. Less obviously, my recommendations for addressing microaggressions and hate speech at conferences are aimed at both presenter and audience and cover the following: 

  • Conferences set up for online attendance and presentations, as well as on-site attendance and participation. 

  • Moderators working as facilitators when participants dole out micro-aggressions to panel presenters in the form of questions. This is particularly useful to presenters responding to more experienced scholars who use this positionality to intimidate, humiliate, and flex academic muscle under the guise of conference behavior. 

  • Questions submitted by the guests to the moderator on behalf of the panel participants for screening. This can also be done in the online setting through Zoom. 

  • Presentation papers submitted ahead of time, and to be skimmed by conference sponsors to avoid microaggressions and hate speech delivery from presenter to audience. 

In my presentation, I will draw on recommendations such as those listed above while including a draft plan for what these suggestions would look like in practice. This includes the labor involved, the number, and the experience-level of support persons necessary to pull this off.