March 2016 Member Highlight: L. Fernando Arias-Galicia
L. Fernando Arias-Galicia
Describe your academic background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies:
Since I was a psychology undergraduate student, I decided to go into two areas: Organizational and Educational; and not into Clinical. My reasoning was: why wait for people to get sick? It is better to undertake a preventive focus. Where do people spend most of their awake time? Obviously: at work (when adults), and at school (when children and youngster and even adults also). This idea came from two main experiences I had in this concern. I was fortunate because in the first year at high school, I flunked mathematics so I had to take extra examinations; at the second year, I failed again math, at the third year… guess what! I flunked again. Therefore, I decided to leave school and go into work as a clerk. I spent three years in such capacity, and then I decided to leave that boring job and to work in the construction industry. I had contact with many types of workers: brick layers, painters, plumbers, and so on. I learned about their worries, their hopes, their attitudes, their motivations, etc.
I was fortunate because I had the opportunity to experience by myself what work is instead of reading books on this matter. Besides, this exposure motivated me to return to school because I desired a better quality of life. So, I went back to evening high school. Again… mathematics! We had a young girl as a teacher. She arrived and wrote unintelligible equations at the blackboard. She spoke with a very soft voice and we could not see her face, only her back, so that class was dead boring. At the school there was a very strict rule: at the entrance time, doors were closed and no student was allowed to enter. One evening, the teacher was not present. She arrived 20 minutes late and all students in the group spontaneously decided not to enter the room as a kind of protest. After a few minutes that poor teacher left the room and the school, she was crying. The principal came to reprimand us. Our excuse was that nobody was learning anything. After a few days, a male teacher made his appearance. He was just the opposite. He explained all topics with profusion. Before jumping to a new theme, he assured that all students had grasped the previous one. He explained how we could apply these points in everyday life. And then a miracle took place: I loved mathematics and got an A+ as a final grade! But the most important discovery for me was: many people are afraid of mathematics, but the problem is not in the subject… the problem is in the way were are taught!
These two experiences directed my attention to education and work. I had some questions in my mind, for instance: Why do many teachers keep using traditional methods (putting emphasis on memory)?; What are their motivations to become educators?; What are their levels of stress and satisfaction (factors related to quality of life)?, What are the sources of these two?; How their experiences compare to other workers?; How do employees consider their rank of pay?; How they see the support given by their organizations?; and other similar questions.
Therefore, I decided to cultivate these two fields: work and education. After graduation, I worked for several companies, both national and transnational, in the Human Capital departments. My last job was as a Personnel Manager in an International Firm. At the same time, I was a part-time professor at the college level. In both capacities I did attempt to spread the vision of increasing quality-of-life of employees, professors, and students. Later on I decided to pursue my call: to became a professor and researcher. I had a scholarship from the Ford Foundation to go to the University of California to get my Master of Business Administration (because in my jobs there were many organizational things I did not fully understand). Afterward, I earned my Doctor in Social Psychology and Doctor in Administration Sciences degrees with Honors from the National University in Mexico. I started as an assistant professor at that university: now I am a full professor and researcher at the Morelos State University in Mexico. Thereupon, I have done and published research on students: what are their motives to work, and how they feel about it, for instance. I have published many papers on quality-of-life of teachers (at all educational levels), both white and blue collar workers, nurses, and housewives. Also I was a trainer in many organizations both in my country and many other nations. In this capacity, I trained university professors in many countries for many years (because of my experience with math!). I have received many messages from both teachers and students about my efforts’ impact of teachers and students’ quality-of-life.
What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention?
In my view, most research has paid attention to people working in formal organizations: blue and white collar workers, teachers (at all educational levels), physicians, nurses, bus drivers, police officers, firemen, and so on. What is lacking is to research other populations, namely: housewives, small entrepreneurs (both female and male), informal vendors, volunteers, professional sport players, spouses of executives, peasants, beggars, homeless, freelance workers, and so on. I think this inquiry would add to our full understanding of quality-of-life (despite the variety of definitions about this concept).
How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I became a member of ISQOLS on 2009. Since then I have attended all yearly conventions, and presented papers. My main interest was to learn about advances in the area regarding theories, methods and results. This expectancy has been fully covered. Listening to other researchers has been a very fruitful exercise because new ideas came into my mid. Also, I am astonished about the tremendous potential contributions researchers can make to increase quality-of-life, provided politicians and decision makers are willing to listen. Concerning this point, we have to devise strategies to reach their brains and hearts. Some of the ideas I gathered both in these conventions as well as papers published in the journals sponsored by the society had permeated my own research. Also I hope that my presentations had some repercussions on the work of other researchers.