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The Department of English welcomes Edith Vélez Bermúdez as the new student support specialist for our three online graduate programs: MA in English (English studies), MAS in film and media studies, and MTESOL. She is responsible for advising students who are located around the world and is currently working on streamlining information for the department’s online graduate programs. “I am looking forward to helping the programs evolve and grow,” Vélez Bermúdez says.
Vélez Bermúdez was born in Puerto Rico, moving to Columbus, Ohio when she was three years old so her parents could both pursue PhDs at The Ohio State University. Vélez Bermúdez and her sister pursued their own degrees at the same university, with Vélez Bermúdez earning a BS in Human Ecology. She moved to Phoenix in 2013 to attend ASU and received her MEd in higher education in fall of 2015. She plans to put her own experience to use helping others find their way through the post-secondary education maze. “Over the entirety of my life,” she says, “I witnessed how those coming from underrepresented student populations struggle in higher education settings and wanted to use my experience to help them achieve success.”
While at The Ohio State University, Vélez Bermúdez also received a BS in textiles and clothing with an emphasis on fashion design and merchandising in 2009. “I have always been interested in art and fashion despite the fact that I realized I didn’t necessarily want to build a career in the fashion industry,” she admits. “I currently feed my creative/artistic side by shopping way too much, designing friends’ weddings, drawing up tattoo ideas for myself and my friends, and changing my hair color a few times a year.” She plans to get back into art by taking some classes at ASU.
Although her immediate family did not move back to Puerto Rico as previously planned, Vélez Bermúdez and her family still enjoy visiting as often as possible: “The majority of my extended family lives there and I’ve visited about once a year since I was a child. Despite only living there for the first three years of my life, Puerto Rico always felt more like home to me than Ohio did,” Vélez Bermúdez reflects. “I love the history and Spanish Colonial architecture in Old San Juan, the beaches, the food, and the warmth and friendliness of those that live there, among other things.”
Before coming to ASU English, Vélez Bermúdez worked at the Disability Resource Center on the Downtown campus for a time and then became a program coordinator for ASU CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program). “It is a first-year retention program for students that come from a migrant farmworker background,” she explains, “and it provides a variety of services including advising, financial aid assistance, the opportunity to attend cultural events, and provides a community for students who may otherwise feel alone and unseen at a university as large as ASU.”
“What I like about working in the English department is working in a positive environment with a variety of friendly, welcoming people,” Vélez Bermúdez reflects. “I have worked a variety of jobs and I have never felt more comfortable in a work environment than I do here. I am grateful for all my new colleagues and am especially thankful to Kira Assad, Sheila Luna, and Kathleen Hicks for taking the time to make me feel comfortable and very patiently training me and answering all my million questions.”
Her interests and hobbies include reading—lots and lots of reading. She identifies herself as an “avid reader,” spending most of her free time with books: “As a child, my Christmas and birthday money would always go towards books. I was a big fan of The Babysitter’s Club. As an adult, I use reading as a way to relax and relieve stress.” In addition to reading, she also follows several fandoms including Marvel, Harry Potter, and Disney: “I like dressing up as Marvel and Disney characters for Halloween and at cons. I think playing dress up is my second favorite activity, and I am a fan of the books, comics, movies, and merchandise… I haven’t changed much since I was 5 years old.”
Vélez Bermúdez finds herself drawn to specific books: “Most of the books I read are fantasy/adventure books. I love anything dealing with magic or fairy tales. I also like historical novels and novels and essays written by my favorite Latina authors: Julia Alvarez, Isabel Allende, and Esmeralda Santiago.” With all the amazing books created and continuing to be created each day, it is hard to pick one she likes best, but she is able to narrow it down to three by the aforementioned favorite authors: Time of the Butterflies (Alvarez), Zorro (Allende), and America’s Dream (Santiago).
Vélez Bermúdez has two dogs: Natasha, who is a small terrier mix, and Bella, who is a border collie/husky mix. She describes both as happy and playful dogs who love whenever their human friends are around to party.
Vélez Bermúdez enjoys volunteering, and did so at an ESL class for adults and at a bilingual elementary school in Ohio: “Being familiar with the struggle that immigrants face when moving to a new country—my mother did not know English when she moved to Ohio and had to learn very quickly in order to be successful in her doctoral program—I wanted to do what little I could to help with their transition and to hopefully give them a sense of belonging.”
The Department of English is happy to have Vélez Bermúdez as member of our community and we hope she feels at home.
Image 1: Courtesy image of Edith Vélez Bermúdez.
Image 2: Vélez Bermúdez poses near Calle Loíza, Santurce landmark: a building painted to look like the Puerto Rican flag. Photo courtesy Vélez Bermúdez.
Image 3: A fantasy-like view of Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy Vélez Bermúdez.