Meet the W.L. Philbrick and Christine J. Philbrick Mortuary Science Endowed Teaching Chair: Dr. Jorge ObesoA champion for student success in STEM

Portrait of Joege Obeso

Throughout his 21 years at Miami Dade College, Dr. Jorge Obeso has been a champion for MDC’s diverse student body to achieve success in STEM fields.

A first-generation college student and underrepresented minority in STEM – like so many students he has taught at MDC – Dr. Obeso knows firsthand the power of mentorship to propel students toward academic and professional success.

“I had exceptional mentorship in my undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, thanks to a professor who early on recognized my potential and asked me if I would like to do research with him,” said Dr. Obeso, who teaches in the Department of Biology, Health and Wellness at North Campus. He went on to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the early 1980s, a time when minorities made up a minute percentage of the student population. Undeterred, he became the first Latino to earn a doctorate in the university’s zoology and human oncology program.

In his more than 40 years of teaching in higher education, Dr. Obeso has made it his mission to support students on the individual level while working behind the scenes to improve STEM education more broadly to pave the way for better learning outcomes.

“Dr. Obeso taught me to be a pioneer and to chase my passions no matter how grand they were,” said Dr. Rodrigo Garcia, an MDC alumnus who went on to become a dentist. “He is truly the most unique and caring professor I have ever had.”

During his time at MDC, Dr. Obeso has served in numerous capacities, as a department chair, natural sciences convener, The Honors College faculty and as a STEM advisor for students pursuing careers in research and allied health. In 2019, Dr. Obeso won a President’s Innovation Fund award for the Support for Biology and Education (SUBE) program he spearheaded in collaboration with the School of Education, assessing the effect of project-based learning on student success and retention as well as recruitment. This is his third Endowed Teaching Chair award.

“At the end of the day, the difference that you make in somebody’s life is carried on,” said Obeso. “That’s why I always tell my students, ‘what you owe me is to help someone follow on your path as I helped you now.”