Aspiring Middle School History Teacher

Jonny Gutierrez feels more educational attention should be paid to pre-teens
UMKC history major Jonny Gutierrez sits in the student organizations area

Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Jonny Gutierrez ‘19
Hometown: Liberal, Kansas
High School: Liberal High School
Degree program: Bachelor of Arts, History, College of Arts and Sciences

Why did you choose UMKC?

My brother was playing for Sporting KC's Youth Academy so he was already set up here. We would always come visit and I fell in love with Kansas City and got really interested in UMKC. I come from a small town and honestly wanted to get out of it. I took advantage of my brother being here and I moved in with him.

“I want to teach middle school…your education matters at this age. It leads you to what you’re going to do in your life.”

Jonny Gutierrez attends the Chavez Lecture

Why did you choose history?

I have always been fascinated by different kinds of history. As a kid, I was into books that had anything to do with history. As time changed, I slowly began to step away from it. I came to UMKC with a completely different path. I was going to go into the dentistry field and only minor in history. As I got more involved with history classes, I  decided to take that passion I had for history as a kid and make it my major!

Jonny Gutierrez at an Avanzando celebration

What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career?

I want to become a middle school teacher someday, God willing. I feel middle school is often ignored. But your education matters at that age. It leads you to what you’re going to do in your life.

I want to teach history and shine a light on the things that don’t get enough attention. For example, the Latino civil rights movement in America, from the 1940s to 1970s. People fought for what they believe in. They fought for equality.

“I want to teach history. I want to shine a light on the things that don’t get enough attention.”

Jonny Gutierrez dances at an Avanzando celebration.

What are the benefits of the history program?

History is actually more challenging than people think. Being a historian means you have to constantly do research, so papers and essays are frequent in the history program. This means always looking for primary and secondary sources, which can sometimes be difficult and time consuming. Writing research papers has become my life.

One of the benefits is that because most history classes are not very big, you really get to know your professors. They all have done their fair share of research over the years, so they understand the struggles of it and are always more than happy to help and it helps in building connections and relationships with them.

A closeup portrait of Jonny Gutierrez

Are you a first-generation college student?

Yes, I am, which was a bit hard in the beginning because we really didn't know how the whole college process worked. Being a first-generation college student puts more pressure on you, but in a good way. It makes me push myself to inspire others who will come after me and to make my parents proud of the sacrifices they have made to give me a better life.


Jonny Gutierrez dancing at an Avanzando celebration

What do you admire most at UMKC?

This might be a bit cliché, but I really admire the diversity at this school. Being Mexican American, I feel extremely welcomed, and it motivates me more because I know I have different kinds of support behind me and that means the world to me.

A hat flies in the air as Jonny Gutierrez celebrates at an outdoor Avanzando party

You seem to be in a lot of extracurricular activities at UMKC.

I am on the executive board for the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) and a scholar in the Avanzando Mentoring Program. ALAS has helped me get to know fellow Latinx students on campus and about different Latinx cultures. Thanks to the group’s leader Iván Ramirez, Avanzando has provided me with different resources and has helped me meet and network with some amazing people. Being in the program motivates me every day. Both ALAS and Avanzando have ultimately helped me find a family here on campus!

“Being a first-generation college student puts more pressure on you, but in a good way. It makes me push myself to inspire others.”

Jonny Gutierrez sits in the UMKC student organizations office

Do you have any scholarships?

I am a recipient of the Chancellor's Historically Underrepresented Minority Scholarship that pays my out-of-state tuition. This scholarship helps in showing that UMKC cares about and believes in the education of minority groups.