Alberto Esquinca wins 2024 AAHHE Book of the Year Award

March 5, 2024
Alberto Esquinca with his book and AAHHE award

Alberto Esquinca is gratified that a book he co-edited received the 2024 Book of the Year Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE). 

And it goes far beyond peer recognition or a new highlight for his CV.

"It's nice to be recognized, but I think the most important thing for me is that the extra publicity will help the book reach its intended audience,” said Esquinca, associate professor in San Diego State University's Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education. 

“Hopefully, it will be a resource for dual-language professionals who are interested in incorporating STEM as a context for promoting equitable participation of students positioned as English learners in U.S. schools.”

The book — "Integrando STEAM: A guide for elementary bilingual and dual language programs" — took the top honor in AAHHE’s Edited Volume category. Published in 2022 in collaboration with co-editors Marialuisa Di Stefano of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Idalis Villanueva Alarcón from the University of Florida, "Integrando STEAM” provides dual-language practitioners tools and frameworks to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

A dual-language educator by training, Esquinca does not have a STEM background himself, but he is passionate about pushing back against the all-too-prevalent notion that English proficiency is a prerequisite for students to participate in STEM learning activities and practices. On the contrary, he believes STEM activities can provide a meaningful context for the development of multi-literacy.

He reached these conclusions based on both his scholarship, and his personal experience growing up labeled as an English-language learner in El Paso, Texas.

“As a student who was an English learner in the United States, I sometimes wondered why not everybody had a chance to participate in these kind of high-expectations learning spaces,” he said. “I didn't know why until I discovered that it wasn't just me — it reflected the experience of a lot of students positioned as English learners.” 

This is the third book Esquinca has published, but he was quick to credit his co-editors. He said "Integrando STEAM” is the result of a spirit of collaboration with other educators who care about equity and social justice.

He also praised Manny Uribe, web and multimedia specialist in the College of Education, for designing the book’s unique and culturally-significant cover which depicts chinampas — complex Mesoamerican agricultural systems.

“When we looked for images for the cover, it was a lot of kids in lab coats,” Esquinca said. “That wasn't the meaning that we wanted to convey. We wanted to talk about science that has historical roots — that is meaningful for the betterment of the community.”

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