Taking a revolutionary approach

Allen Community College's new sociology professor, Dr. Jose Perez Reisler, encourages his students to interact and explore diversity. He's also fascinated by Latin American revolutions, particularly Grenada.

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September 1, 2021 - 9:53 AM

Dr. Jose Perez Reisler is the new sociology professor at Allen Community College. He grew up in Puerto Rico. The black-and-white Resistance flag, shown behind him, is a symbol of independence and was created in response to a U.S. financial oversight board that controls the territory’s finances. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

The life — and especially the death — of former Grenada leader Maurice Bishop fascinates Dr. Jose Perez Reisler.

Bishop, the prime minister of Grenada from 1979 to 1983, was assassinated by members of his own party. 

Though it’s a generation away and on a distant Caribbean island, Bishop’s story of activism rings true today. Though his tenure was brief, Bishop’s role as prime minister was marked by his commitment to improving workers’ rights, women’s rights, and the struggle against racism and apartheid.

“Maurice Bishop and his closest followers were murdered on Oct. 19, 1983, so unfortunately they can’t tell their side of the story,” Perez Reisler said. 

“I always had an interest in Latin American revolutions and I always had interest in the revolution in the island of Grenada.”

Perez Reisler is the new sociology professor at Allen Community College. He’s looking forward to engaging with a diverse group of students and encouraging them to interact as they consider their roles in society.

Allen Community College’s new sociology professor, Dr. Jose Perez Reisler, is from Puerto Rico and is fascinated by the revolution in the tiny island nation of Grenada, shown with the marker at bottom right.

PEREZ Reisler grew up on a dairy farm in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico.

In high school, he started to play chess. That skill would later help fund his education.

“It’s like every sport. You have to learn a lot of openings. There’s a whole database that tells you the statistics of whatever opening you’re playing,” he said. “There’s a lot of math and you have to remember everything, so a lot of memory, too.”

After high school, he traveled to the University of Maryland to earn his bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in sociology. He also studied history.

Perez Reisler was a McNair Scholar, a national program that promotes first-generation and underrepresented minorities to help them pursue advanced degrees. 

That lengthy process took Perez Reisler around the world. 

He studied at Northwestern University, earned his master’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico and his doctorate at a university in Spain. 

“Teaching was always the plan but my funding dried up while I was doing my PhD, so I started having to work,” he said. “I did whatever I could find.”

That included visiting airports and train stations to ask people to take part in various surveys. 

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