SPOTLIGHT: Kimberlee Peréz

Kimberlee Peréz

By Katherine Fillion

If you have yet to take a course with Kimberlee Peréz, what are you waiting for? With a way of making everyone feel seen and heard even through the most difficult of conversations, Peréz fosters a classroom environment that grants students the safety to engage with difficult subjects. Through her passion for understanding the intricacies of human discourse and leading by example, she sets the tone in creating a community that can acknowledge how scary it is to be vulnerable while simultaneously challenging their own fears and reservations.

This spirit of vulnerability and strength in community is present in her work outside of the classroom as well. During the 2022-2023 school year, Pérez was granted a Five College Women's Research Center Fellowship to work on her book project, Telling: Survival Stories where she draws on both research and personal experience to form a meaningful piece surrounding how people talk about sexual violence and harm. The book focuses on the aftermath of the experience of sexual violence, and highlights a few essential questions about the discussions that follow. How do we make space for these conversations? How do we survive; in legal systems, social spheres, etc? Contextualizing these experiences is keystone in opening a dialogue that supports survivors and brings hidden struggles to light. In addition to Telling: Survival Stories, she is working on a creative essay that explores performance art in the context of how we talk about grief in a dysfunctional family. The essay aims to uncover how we talk about family stories, especially those that we often neglect to share. Storytelling, be it in person or through text and performance, presents an opportunity for both the teller and listener to discover new alliances, challenge past and current beliefs, and even ignite powerful social justice movements.

With that being said, it comes as no surprise that her fundamental mission as both a professor and a lifelong learner is to journey alongside us as we strengthen our ability to cultivate self-awareness in our communication practices and ultimately align these practices with our broader social and political goals. This underlying mission serves as the guiding light present throughout each and every course she teaches. One course, Comm 394-EI Performance and Politics of Race, delves into the complex ways in which we have internalized discussions about race and racism. By exploring stories of race and racism that are often silenced, students can expand their capacity to contribute to difficult conversations and begin to see social relations through a more dynamic perspective.

Thank you Kimberlee for all you do for the Communication Department and its students!