Faculty Spotlight: Carlos Jimenez, Jr.
By Michael Cox, third-year film studies & production and political science major
While growing up in a modest background in Chicago, Carlos Jimenez, Jr., PhD, was not aware of his passion for media studies, and (if he had been) certainly would not have believed it could lead to a successful career. That changed during his undergraduate studies at DePaul University. Jimenez began his college career as a business major and took some photography classes to fill up his schedule. His interest in photography led to media production as a whole and before he knew it, he was hooked. But at the end of his undergraduate years, he was still asking the question: where to go from there?
Luckily, the McNair Scholars Program operated at his university and they provided resources and support to help diversify the professoriate. Through the program, Jimenez realized he could further his film studies while maintaining stable employment as a professor. While he loved production, he pivoted to research after graduating. He delivered his dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on the interactions between media and agricultural workers.
While working on his PhD, Jimenez forged a collaboration with agricultural workers in California, working with them to build a radio station: Radio Indegena, in Oxnard. This partnership became an important chapter in his dissertation and inspired him to a new goal of pushing his research into communities rather than just publications.
After receiving his PhD, Jimenez had a few short teaching stints before quickly finding a home at DU, which has been his home for the past four years. As soon as Jimenez sat down for his interview, he knew he had found the right place. He was impressed by the drive of MFJS chair Lynn Schofield Clark, PhD, and the department as a whole. As a recent graduate, he was amazed at what the department’s faculty had accomplished and felt he could learn from them. Of course, he also enjoyed Denver, which married the big city experience with an outdoor life that he had not been able to experience before.
While lecturing at DU, Jimenez has come to enjoy teaching the audio documentary course. He values the advanced level, which allows him to truly challenge students to tell a story without any visuals. Additionally, in line with his usual approach to work, he thinks the audio-only style forces students to get out into communities and get genuine interviews and perspectives.
In the past four years, Jimenez has continued to produce research concerning agricultural workers but has expanded his scope to include the many day laborers around Denver. He takes pride in how much time he spends with these day laborers, figuring out how they use social media, what kind of photos they take and the necessary technology they utilize in their daily lives. He is a firm believer that good research involving a community requires spending extensive time with them to gain trust and build meaningful relationships that will last into the future. Some of Jimenez’s research appeared in the edited book "Mobile Socialites," published in 2021. More of his work was published as part of a journal for community engaged scholarship, a collaboration between the MFJS department and the Graduate School of Social Work at DU involving digital stories for day laborers and how important it is for researchers to work with marginalized communities. Jimenez believes in listening to those who are not widely heard or listened to.
Outside of his work and research, Jimenez used to play video games, but had to put them down to improve his productivity. He opted to replace it with long-distance running, reaching an almost 12-mile record. He enjoys working on cars, cooking, and, of course, watching television and movies; some of his mainstream favorites include "Spirited Away" and "Station 11".
In the future, Jimenez wants to promote the Rocky Mountain Reverb podcast in collaboration with MFJS students. Additionally, he has been invited to so many media studies conferences that he is not even sure he can attend all of them, but he is looking forward to traveling and he is grateful for the opportunities that being a professor grants him while studying what he loves and putting forward research that will make a difference.