Back in his days serving as a counselor for Irving ISD, Enrique Otero had no idea that his passion in education would take him to the college classroom – all thanks to a colleague’s suggestion.
“In 2002, after seven years with Irving ISD, a friend of mine asked me if I’d be interested in teaching at the college level,” he recalled. “There was an opportunity at North Lake College, and it hadn’t even occurred to me as an option for my career going forward.”
Otero took a leap of faith by joining North Lake as a visiting scholar, which was a program then that allowed participants to serve in an instructional capacity for a given period. In this case, it was for two years.
“After two years, I was hooked,” he said. “There was no turning back!”
Two decades into being a psychology faculty member, Otero views his role at Dallas College through the lens of helping students navigate the collegiate landscape during a challenging time in their lives.
“My passion is to help them as best I can through the challenges they will inevitably experience,” he explained. “It’s letting them know that it’s okay to struggle, and I relay to them my own struggles and how I was able to overcome them. I’m always thrilled when I hear back from students that I’ve helped them in that way.”
Otero also recognizes the struggles associated with the restructuring of Dallas College over the past three years, especially when compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and various other stresses that affect our everyday lives.
“It is my hope that we get back to the level of collegiality and collaboration that we’ve had in the past,” he offered. “Now that we are a single college, I feel it’s important that we all feel a shared sense that we are together for a common purpose and common good. It certainly starts and ends with students and how we can help them be successful, but we also need to ensure our employees are successful, too.”
Dr. LaQueta Wright, the academic dean within the school that includes Otero’s discipline, said she appreciates his commitment to students and the institutional knowledge he brings to the table.
“I appreciate that Enrique is very involved working on faculty-related projects for the greater good of our instructional delivery,” she said. “I love the mix I’m seeing of experienced faculty like Enrique with those who are newer to Dallas College. We are in a great position to further our educational mission for the benefit of our students and of our communities.”