History Matters is an annual interdisciplinary conference held at our North Campus. It was founded by professor John Gillespie in 2016 with the goal of bringing together scholars from various fields to present a wide range of perspectives on important topics in history. We are proud to foster the presentation and exchange of ideas at San Jac and surrounding communities

Organizing Committee

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Andrew Chau is a Professor of Philosophy at San Jacinto College – North Campus. He received his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Texas State University, his M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Houston, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Oklahoma. His area of specialization is the philosophy of science, with a focus on the intersection of science and ethics.  Andrew has been a member of the organizing committee for History Matters since its inception in 2016 and served as co-chair in 2020 and 2022.  He presented his paper, “Science, Values, and Food Sovereignty,” at the 2nd annual History Matters Conference in 2017.

John Gillespie is a Professor of History and Humanities at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas. He received a B.A. at Texas Tech University, an M.Ed. at the University of Houston, an M.L.A. at the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in Humanities from Faulkner University. A 20-year veteran of the classroom, John has taught middle school, high school and college History and Humanities, as well as high school courses in English, Government, and Philosophy. He has presented at numerous academic conferences focusing on the liberal arts and education, and he has contributed pieces to The Episcopal Café, The Unexpected Journal, Poiema Press, and The Fourth World Cooperative Journal.  In the fall of 2021, John published five essays in American Religious History Through Time as part of the American Biographical Center series.

Alejandra Jaramillo-Fontenot earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from the University of Houston Main Campus, including a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies with a minor in European history.  She has been in the field of education for about 13 years.  She started her teaching career as a Social Studies high school teacher.  Alejandra is currently Professor of History at San Jacinto College North Campus.  Her research interests include the agency of indigenous peoples in the legal system of New Spain and labor and tribute of native communities.

Alisha Loftin is a Professor of History at San Jacinto College - North Campus. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, she received her B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from New Mexico State University, her M.A. in History from TCU and her Ph.D. in 2021 in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Houston. Her Ph.D. research focused on formality in love letters of 19th and 20th century Mexico. New to SJC, Alisha has principally taught Spanish and U.S and Latin American history for over 20 years.

Brett Olmsted is a Professor of History at the San Jacinto College North Campus. He received his B.A. in History from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Houston.  His area of specialization is 20th Century U.S. History, with a focus on Mexican American History examining the intersection of immigration, labor, community, and space making.  He has published an article in the Michigan Historical Review entitled, “Mexican Fiestas in Central Michigan: Celebrations and Identity Formation, 1920-1930,” and is currently working on his monograph examining how Mexicanos used leisure and labor to create space and community in Michigan.

Jeremy Pedigo is a Professor of Government at San Jacinto College – North Campus.  He was previously employed with the Harris County Domestic Relations Office in Houston, last serving as Director of the Community Supervision Unit. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Baylor University and his M.A. in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Currently, Jeremy is working toward a Ph.D. in History from Liberty University. He joined the organizing committee in 2019 and serves as co-chair of this year’s event.

Dr. Kristen Williams is a Professor of History at San Jacinto College North. She attained both her bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Houston, and in 2022 she completed her Ed.D. in Ethical Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Prior to her work at San Jacinto College, Dr. Williams spent the early part of her career teaching high school and has written articles, led workshops, and contributed to scholarly panels focused on socially conscious teaching in the K12 classroom. Her historical research interests relate to human rights, genocide, and American politics.


The organizing committee would like to give special thanks to Dr. Alexander Okwonna (Provost, San Jacinto College – North) and Darla Rocha (Department Chair of Behavioral & Social Science, San Jacinto College – North) for their continued support of the History Talks Conference.