Picture walking into your Monday night class with energy that could beat a Red Bull by miles. Enthusiasm is plastered across each student’s face as they prepare themselves for a lecture of laughter. Latin music booms from the professor’s laptop at the front of the room, making you want to clench a rose between your teeth and salsa with your nearest classmate.
The environment of the classroom is so laid back and relaxed that you forget it is a two-and-a-half hour lecture. No judgments are made, allowing students to feel comfortable enough to willingly participate and discuss different viewpoints. This class persuades you to rethink your perspective once you listen to the life lessons and experiences the professor and fellow classmates have to share.
The hardest part is trying not to adore the petite frame and cheesy smile of the man at the front of the podium. His crisp white button-down is perfectly tucked in his wrinkle-less dress pants, and his gold belt adds a taste of flavor to his professional attire. His accent echoes throughout the University Hall classroom and his jokes will unexpectedly make you burst into laughter.
No matter what race or ethnicity you are, professor Robert Membreno teaches you about the women of Latin American culture through film and fiction. His Latin studies course persuades you to step into the lives of not only Latinas and Hispanics but of women in general and analyze the systems of oppression they face.
Membreno, professor of Spanish and Latino studies, is by far one of the most appreciated professors on campus. His background of more than 10 years as a professor from numerous campuses, including Montclair State University, William Paterson University, and Kean University, proves how well-rounded and experienced he is. His positive and upbeat attitude is not unnoticed and favored by many students on campus.
Junior business major, Stephen Stylianou, who took Membreno’s class last semester, recalls the class as one of his favorites.
“He constantly engages with the class and will go the extra distance for his students,” Stylianou said. “The entire premise of the class and how relaxed I felt made me want to be there.”
As a male figure, it is surprising how deep Membreno’s passion goes towards the topic of feminism, especially for Latin American women.
“I come from a family with many sisters,” Professor Membreno said. “Not only did I witness the way relationships impacted them emotionally but their experiences made me want to focus on the systems of oppression all women face [in] Latin cultures.”
Today, the feminist movement has significantly increased, so what better time than now to have a professor that promotes equality of women and addresses the obstacles that Latin American women face from all cultures.
His most recent study was spent in Puerto Rico focusing on the social and political controversies of groups of women on the island. Initially, Membreno planned to conduct his research inside the United States; however, he could not find the available texts he needed to analyze the Latin American women and characters in iconic books and other literature.
While Membreno reflected on his research, his happiness and gratuity towards the residents on the island could not be overlooked.
“What I appreciated most about the trip was how compassionate and supportive the native people were,” Membreno said. “They were beyond helpful and their charisma to help find the proper texts I needed, [which] made it a wonderful experience.”
Membreno also studied at Antonio de Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain. The university is extremely noteworthy because it was the first college to publish the Spanish grammar book in 1492. When asked about his biggest professional accomplishment, Membreno listed completing the postgraduate program at the college as one of his top accomplishments.
He also continues to impact the student body of Montclair State by teaching students about cultures worldwide and focusing on the promotion of feminism and appreciation of Latinas, Hispanics and all women.
Junior art major, Lianna Perez said Professor Membreno’s teaching had an impact on the entire class.
“The class was definitely memorable and something I will not forget,” Perez said. “His way with words and conversation added some comical relief. I can honestly say that not [myself], but the entire class felt the semester was enjoyable.”