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Dr. Teresa Coronado
Dr. Teresa Coronado

Dr. Teresa Coronado, who graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a Master of Arts in English in 2003, recently became the program director for the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC), located in the center of Milwaukee Harbor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

teresa sailing

The MCSC is a private, not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 agency that provides educational and recreational sailing programs to those who wish to gain access to Lake Michigan and learn to sail; regardless of age, physical ability or financial concerns.

She shares what sailing means to her, why she chose ENMU and her advice to students interested in working in her career field:

What are your job duties as program director for the MCSC?

I am responsible for organizing programs and activities for the Sailing Center. I am responsible for the identification, development, implementation and supervision of sailing programs which promote the MCSC mission: promoting sailing and making Lake Michigan accessible and available for sailing for all segments of the general community.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is on the water, which is perhaps my favorite part of the job. But, it also introduces people to that which brings me joy: sailing. There is never a dull moment at the Sailing Center, even in the winter months.

Today, I finished up putting together a schedule for winter courses, worked on developing a racing program for our youth sailors and am writing grants for funding to develop our STEM program.

In the summer, these kinds of things are accompanied by people coming in and out of the Sailing Center, taking lessons or taking out sailboats.

One of the things I love about my new job is the mission statement: To make Lake Michigan accessible!

When and why did you begin sailing? What does sailing mean to you?

I was eight or nine when I sailed for the first time by myself. I had always sailed with my uncles or grandfather, but my uncles decided, unbeknownst to me, that it was time for me to be on my own.

My Uncle Tom sailed with me out onto White Lake, and my Uncle Barry followed in the motorboat. When we were about half a mile offshore, my Uncle Tom tipped the boat over (it was a Sunfish, small and easy to handle) and then swam off to the motorboat. My uncles said that if I could right the boat and sail it back to shore, I could sail by myself for the rest of my life.

I pouted for a while, and then I righted the boat and sailed around. It was glorious. I think it was the first time I truly got to feel like what it was to be by myself. It is quiet and a place to be really alone, and it is also something I do really well. I don't have a lot of confidence in almost anything I do, but I do know I can sail.

I like that I am working with the natural world in that I am using wind and water, but that I am not using it up—I get to share it. When I get a really good angle on my sailboat (a Butterfly, also small) it hums. I love that my boat sings to me when she is happy.

I love to share sailing with people, too (in fact, this summer I may have only sailed by myself once) and to see their joy at the sounds of the water and wind when on a boat.

Why did you choose ENMU?

I had been out of school for a while, and I was looking for a graduate program that was welcoming to returning students. I had also never lived in New Mexico before, so I chose a school that would allow me to do some exploring of a new place.

teresa on sailboat

How did you choose your field of study?

English had always been my favorite subject, and since I was returning to school after having been away for a while, it seemed like the thing to do for me to choose a subject I was comfortable in, but would also provide me a place to grow.

Which academic honors did you receive at ENMU?

  • Recipient of the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association's "Michael K. Schoenecke Award for Best Graduate Paper on American Culture" at the S/W Texas PCA/ACA Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2003.
  • Winner of the 29th Annual Student Research Conference in English at ENMU in 2003.
  • Winner of the 28th Annual Student Research Conference in English at ENMU in 2002.
  • Recipient of a University Graduate Scholarship at ENMU from 2002-03.

Which activities were you involved with at ENMU?

I was elected as president of the Graduate Student Association at ENMU from 2002-03. I was also a graduate-student instructor from 2001-03 for the English department.

What do you think about your experience at ENMU?

I loved it. It was different for me, in that I had never considered a graduate program before, and I hadn't lived in New Mexico before, but the professors made me welcome. Further, they challenged and pushed me every step of the way, which allowed me to really think about what it meant to study literature. Even more than that, they challenged my idea that I wasn't the kind of person to get more degrees (first-generation, Mexican-American) which helped me apply, and eventually get into, Ph.D. programs across the country.

Dr. Nina Bjornsson and Dr. Mary Ayala, as well as Dr. Jerald Spotswood and Dr. Erin O'Neill, were all excellent at helping me find my way through the graduate program, as well as mentoring me as I applied for Ph.D. programs.

How did ENMU prepare you for your career?

Teaching at ENMU introduced me to the flexibility required when teaching to a wide range of people—this helped me as an instructor at the University of Oregon, as well as a faculty member at UW-Parkside. As a program manager, I need to provide a variety of activities for different groups of people, all while maintaining the mission of the Sailing Center. ENMU started me on a path that allows me to do my job well.

Previous jobs:

Before I attended ENMU, I worked in publishing, and I was an ESL instructor. After attending ENMU, I worked as a graduate instructor, an assistant professor of English, and was promoted, with tenure, to an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. I left Parkside to come to MCSC.

What advice would you give to a student interested in working in your career field?

To "market" myself as a program manager I had to work quite diligently to make sure that my experiences in academics were broken down into transferable skills that a company would find valuable. Anyone with a degree has the skills desired by an employer, but learning to talk about those skills is harder to do—do that, and you can find your way into a field you love.

For people who want to get into the sailing world, well, start by sailing! Volunteer, instruct and find your niche.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve in your career?

I am doing it. This is my third career; I was in publishing, then academia and now this. This position speaks to all of my strengths and allows me to use my knowledge and personal skills to promote both the sport and the community.

What kinds of accomplishments/awards have you earned?

  • A Ph.D. in Early American Literature from the University of Oregon.
  • Tenure and promotion to associate professor from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
  • "Volunteer Instructor of the Year" award from the MCSC.
teresa with bell

Are you involved with any organizations or causes? Volunteer work?

I regularly ride in Bike MS, an organization that raises funds to support research to end Multiple Sclerosis. I am a member of the Midwest Women's Sailing Conference organizing committee and an alumni member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Alpha Iota.

Who influences you? Who is your role model? Why?

There are so many, really. If I focus on this industry, I would say all of the women who broke the barriers to become a part of something—sailing, like most things, used to be a world for men. Through persistence, effort, courage and, I imagine, tears and hard work, women have become leaders in the world of sailing.

Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz was the first woman to sail around the world single-handedly. Dawn Riley was the first woman on an America's Cup boat, and later an America's Cup captain. Dawn Riley also skippered the first female team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.

All of the women on Team SCA, the only all-female team in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, are inspirational. And the women's team, Sail Like a Girl, who just won the Race to Alaska, are also pretty inspirational.

In terms of personal role models, my parents and grandparents have always served in that role. From them, I learned patience, persistence, calmness and a sense of humor.

Where were you born and raised?

I am an Army Brat—I was born in Georgia, but only lived there a few months.

Do you have any pets?

I have a cat.

What are your hobbies?

Sailing! I read, bike and compete in triathlons.

Interesting fact about you:

I think I have given them to you already: Army Brat, Mexican-American, sailor.

Also:

  • Solo traveler in Romania, Turkey and Europe.
  • Solo camping in Oregon, Washington, Utah, California, Alaska, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona.
  • Bike MS: Best Dam Bike Ride in Wisconsin in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2018.
  • Triathlons: Lake Mills, Wisconsin; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Eugene, Oregon; Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  • US Sailing Keelboat certification.
  • Race to Alaska in 2018.
  • I have sailed across Lake Michigan quite a few times.

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