By Art Ortega |Staff Writer|
During a poetry class session, he came.
“Outstanding instructor.” Delgado-his name.
El Presidente Tomás Morales dubbed Juan Delgado, “El Jefe” after presenting him with this year’s Professor of the Year Award.
Professor Delgado has become a great asset to this university.
He has chaired the English department, Communications department and served on many committees throughout his career.
Morales barged into his poetry class on Monday, April 29, surprising Delgado, with more than 20 professors who were previous award winners.
Delgado’s wife Jean, a CSUSB lecturer, and two daughters, Anna and Clara, were also present to support their hero and witness the brief ceremony.
After the celebration, I asked Delgado which one of his achievements was the most self-satisfying.
“Hmm, the first thing that comes to my mind are the students. Advising students and helping them solve problems has always been one of the most rewarding experiences,” he said.
Delgado originally studied accounting before he developed an interest for poetry.
“I grew up in a poor family,” began Delgado. “And when my father died, it was a real eye opener. I told myself, ‘there has to be more to life than money and material things,’ so I pursued what I really wanted in life. I found poetry and learned it helped me express my feelings. I also began to help others through my poetry.”
He is a great inspiration to many on our campus.
In light of the recent discussion concerning immigration reform, Delgado began to talk about his poem, “The Gatekeepers.”
The last lines from The Gatekeeper read, “Then he tells me I was born to study the sand trails and notice when footsteps drag and turn to knee and hand prints.
Those are the ones I need to follow, he says.
“The significance of the last stanza is to provide an ethical perspective on immigration. Mexican immigrants were forced to travel through the hot, dry desert after new walls were constructed to keep people from crossing the border,” he explained.
“We need to view this dilemma from a different perspective. Fathers, wives, sons and daughters are actually out there, and someone needs to watch over them. It brings morality into question. It is illegal to leave water and blankets out there to help them, but if it were your brother or sister out there, you wouldn’t hesitate one second to provide the same things,” said Delgado. “I wanted to write from a humane perspective, not a political one.”
Delgado’s genuine care for humanity and pursuit of what he loves to do have allowed him to become a powerful inspiration to others.
Visit the poetryfoundation.org to read more about Delgado and his journey as a poet.
Delgado has a collection of poetry including Green Web (1994), selected by poet Dara Weir for the Contemporary Poetry Prize at the University of Georgia; El Campo (1998); and A Rush of Hands (2003). His poems have been included in the anthology Touching the Fire: Fifteen Poets of Today’s Latino Renaissance (1998).