Dr. Janelle M. Silva (she/her)

By Serena D Polendo

A drawing of the the Greek letter psi, which is the shape of a trident or pitchfork. Beside it is a paw print. Both are dark purple.
“UW Psychology” by Anonymouse.

Dr. Janelle M. Silva has dedicated years of activism in the classroom to teaching students of all ages about power and social structures in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Silva was born in California and earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and the History of Art & Visual Culture as a first generation Mexican woman. She then went on to earn a PhD. in Social Psychology and Feminist Studies both at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She began her teaching career working with a class of first graders students in California as well.

Dr. Silva moved to Washington state in 2011. Since being in a new environment she worked to learn and understand the local struggles and movements of the area by involving herself with anything she could, from community gathering talks to cultural centers. Afterwards she began to work in middle and high schools creating a movement known as decolonizing schools. She helped in Latino Student Union clubs, motivating students to create a Latinx class in 2018 titled “Soy Yo,” to unlearn structures that hurt marginalized groups through curriculum, textbook usage, and holding their schools accountable for the ways in which they create barriers that disempower students.

In 2015, at the University of Washington Bothell, she worked with her students as they demanded a student diversity center. Despite being a vulnerable, untenured faculty member she created the framework for the campaign, and served as a shield to the students at the risk of her job. She enabled the students to spearhead the project, serving as a pillar of support and mediator for administration on behalf of the students; the same administration who would later vote on her successful tenure and promotion case. After years of negotiating, the diversity center became a permanent resource hub in 2018.

In 2016 Dr. Silva was the recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award for University of Washington Bothell, because of her strong commitment to community engagement as both a goal and method of teaching.

Dr. Janelle Silva is a motivating force behind supporting BIPOC students and being a young brown woman in a position of power her students are able to see themselves in her. Sometimes all a person needs is to see someone that looks like them, doing something they had only ever imagined. Her students went on to create diverse clubs and became activists themselves. Taking her teachings not only into their small circle but further than she could ever have hoped for.


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Badass Womxn and Enbies in the Pacific Northwest Volume 2 Copyright © 2023 by Badass Zine Machine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.