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Meet Renee Lemus and Cristina Rose of Las Doctoras in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Renee Lemus and Cristina Rose.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Renee and Cristina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We met in a parent/toddler class we attended with our children. We quickly learned we were both professors in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies departments at different Cal State Universities, and had recently received our PhD’s. Shortly after that, we began working together in a community organization where we became fast friends and colleagues. As our friendship grew, we realized we had similar life goals in terms of our career trajectories and in our approaches to motherhood and family and in our passion for social justice. We started working together, putting on events for the community organization we were involved with. This eventually led us to a desire to want to work together in a deeper capacity. We eventually launched an online class together, and subsequently, our podcast was born and we became Las Doctoras! Since then we continue to work on many projects together including a book with two other colleagues of ours. We enjoy working together, but more than anything we enjoy the friendship we have built, which makes working together so much fun!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our friendship has always been at the core of our work together and that has blossomed beautifully. In terms of our projects, it has not always been a smooth road. We have basically been learning thing as we go along, taking risks and seeing what happens. Learning from our mistakes and assessing how we can do better next time. In the process, however, we have been able to build community and connections, making the process more enjoyable and cathartic. As part-time professors who work for universities on semester or if we are lucky year contracts, our lives are often unpredictable when it comes to job and financial stability. We never know how many classes we will be able to teach the next semester and what our schedule will be. We really have no say in how this will play out. This leaves us often frustrated and stressed as we have families to support and bills to pay, including crippling student loans. So we created this business venture with the hopes of creating some sustainability in our lives. We asked ourselves how we could use the skills we have learned as academics to do other things besides work as professors within the university structure. Which has led us to creating online courses and to creating the podcast.

However, where we lack in is our business savvy and marketing skills. We discovered quickly our limits when it comes to creating a business and figuring out ways we can turn the amazing content we have into a lucrative venture. We have reached out to people in our community to help us in this area, but of course, keep running into challenges of being short on financial means to make these investments. Not to mention that with our podcast, we have literally been figuring out how to produce it as we go along. We have had some frustrating moments recording good sound and learning about editing and publishing of the podcast. Again, we reached out to our community and have been very fortunate to have received support both financially and otherwise to help us navigate this process.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Las Doctoras – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Currently, we have a podcast in which we discuss issues of race, gender, sexuality, reproductive justice, social justice, motherhood, spirituality and more. We have interviewed several guests on our podcast, including doulas, spiritual channelers, fellow mamas, educators, and academics. Ultimately, our intention has always been to take many of the discussions we have in our classrooms as professors with our students outside of the classroom. We asked ourselves, how can we bring our lesson plans to a larger audience? We have a deep passion for these topics and for creating conversations with women and people of color specifically to be able to envision a different world. To create space to have deep, important and often taboo conversations that impart knowledge, wisdom, insight, and empowerment.

We are also working on a book project with two colleagues of ours, Carolina Adame and Marlha Sanchez. The book, @semillasdelasabuelas, is a collection of recipes, crafts, stories, songs and more to help support the muxeres in our community who want to establish seasonal, and daily rhythms that are feminist and honor our abuelas and bisabuelas, and help to impart our Latinx cultural traditions onto the next generation.

We are proud to be doing this work because we know that we have had access to resources and privileges that our parents and other elders did not. We recognize the incredible opportunity it has been to follow the path of education as far as we have, and we see it as a responsibility to give back to our communities. As Latinas, we know the journeys our ancestors took for us to be here was not easy, and thus we honor their legacy by helping to create spaces, conversations, and opportunities to learn from other Latinas, women, and people of color and then pass on these lessons to our children.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have some big goals for the near and far future. Right not we are focusing on our podcast trying to record interviews, and episodes and publish them on a fairly consistent basis, every 2-3 weeks.

This year, we are also working on branding and marketing that allows us to find a rhythm to advertising that allows us to focus on our creative work. We want to focus on the work we do, but of course, because our ultimate goal is for financial sustainability, we know we need to put some effort into marketing and advertising. So we are making some concerted efforts to learn about branding, and reach out to experts in that field, and to find efficient ways to bring that into our project planning. Beginning in the Fall, we are hoping to be able to begin launching four seasonal classes a year, whether online or in person, our goal to have consistent enrollment. We are also hoping to open up sponsorship opportunities for our podcast to be able to make that a sustainable venture.

And of course, we also want to write, because we love writing, and because we are committed to completing our book project with the goal of getting it published as soon as we can. We are working on launching a Kickstarter for that project and holding a fundraising event in September. We hope this book will allow us to have more publishing opportunities in the future.

Lastly, we hope to be able to eventually incorporate our own children into our work, whether through creating courses for them, or looking how to incorporate parent/son dynamic within reproductive justice education framework. Simply, we want to find a nice work, homelife balance that fulfills us and our vision for a brighter future.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Carolina Adame (for all images)

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