With a longstanding interest in Spanish and Chicano culture, Ernestina “Tina” N. Eger, PhD, began her studies with coursework at Muhlenberg College in 1963 followed by further coursework at Emory University in 1965 and has cultivated significant expertise in the field of Chicano literature. In 1965, she joined Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where she was a professor in the department of modern languages, teaching Spanish and Chicano literature, for 25 years. During this time, she furthered her education by obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy from the Universidad Jaime Balmes in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1975 and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1987.
In 1989, Dr. Eger’s career took a turn following the death of her life partner, Lazaro Manuel Costa Acosta, a Cuban native. Finding that teaching Spanish was simply too painful after his passing, she leveraged her degree in library science to attain a position at Carthage College’s Hedberg Library, where she worked as an electronic services librarian and reference librarian from 1990 until her retirement in 2009. Upon her retirement, Dr. Eger was awarded the title of professor emerita at Carthage College and remains in touch with colleagues and friends from the college to this day.
Attributing much of her success to her tenacity, Dr. Eger made a name for herself through her ability to connect with her colleagues, her two-part career in teaching and library science and her focus on Chicano literature. She was a regular contributor of articles to professional journals throughout her career and notably published a book, “A Bibliography of Criticism of Contemporary Chicano Literature,” in 1982. The book was very well received upon its publication and remains a widely cited text in the field. In relation to her career endeavors, Dr. Eger spent time early on in her career as the secretary to the United Migrant Opportunity Services in Milwaukee from 1976 to 1979.
The most important thing that Dr. Eger learned throughout her career was to be nice to others, because your actions will always come back to you. She was also greatly influenced by her mentor, the late Joseph Sommers, a World War II veteran of Russian descent. His presence in her life was incredibly important and she dedicated “A Bibliography of Criticism of Contemporary Chicano Literature” to him. In order to keep abreast of developments in her field, Dr. Eger spent time affiliated with the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the Modern Language Association, Chicano Studies of Wisconsin and the Raza Unida Party.
Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Dr. Eger has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. Notably, she was recognized during the National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar in Chicano Literature alongside scholar Don Luis Leal in 1986. She has also been presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and a Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award in addition to being named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional and featured in the 27th edition of Who’s Who of American Women. Above these accolades, Dr. Eger considers the publication of her book to be the highlight of her career and also finds it incredibly rewarding to have had a career that spanned both teaching and library science.
Hoping to leave a legacy as a good colleague and an accomplished professional in the field of Chicano literature, Dr. Eger would advise young and aspiring professionals to be true to yourself and kind to others. She emphasizes that when you are kind to others you can develop some truly wonderful friends within your sphere of academia. In her retirement, Dr. Eger has cultivated her hobby of computers and also collects works relating to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, which her father was the head electrician for when it was being built, and modern black and white art. Her current project is creating a catalogue of the art she has acquired.