• Skype: mdbecerra74
  • drmichaelbecerra@gmail.com

The story behind Professor Nomad

The story behind Professor Nomad

Professor Nomad got it’s start in March 2012 during a fast-paced time in my life. Before, I had completed my doctoral studies in counselor education at Texas A&M University-Commerce and had started my first tenure-track assistant professor job at the University of Alabama. I had a good first academic year; submitted my tenure dossier on time, started to develop research studies involving Latino families and disability, and became accustomed to living in a liberal-centric neighborhood in Birmingham. I would travel back to Dallas at least once a month to check on my mom who had just completed chemo and radiation treatment and was cancer-free.


Fast forward to right before my birthday in January 2011, my mom called me with the bad news that her cancer had returned and that she would have to undergo chemo and radiation treatment again. But this time, cancer had spread to her lungs. This event took place during mid-year of my first year at UA, and it was at the same time when the state passed the anti-immigration law HB56 that led to most undocumented persons fleeing the area. Looking back in hindsight, this was the point where everything started changing for me.

I was commuting 16 hours to Dallas each week to help out my mom’s friends who were helping care for her. I was lucky to be teaching the majority of my classes online, but UA required me to be present in my office at least three days of the week. That was my reality until summer school started in May. My mom passed away on July 13, 2011, and I was relieved and lucky that it had worked out for me to be by her side and not stuck in Alabama.

Mom’s legacy. My two older sisters, brother-in-laws, nephews, and niece.

My attitude completely changed when she passed. Being the youngest child and the closest to my mom, this impacted me in ways that I may not have been 100% prepared. The impending death was certain, but what came afterward left me feeling out-of-control and powerless, and a bit rebellious if I’m honest. I coped by throwing myself into projects remodeling my childhood home that my mom left me. I also started to reprioritize my values in life. I remember telling my mom that I was going to travel for awhile to learn more about my Latino roots.

My second academic year at UA was shitty. My faculty peers offered zero support or sympathy with my mother’s passing away, or during the tenure process (No faculty ever agreed to mentor me as junior faculty). Was I bitter by that point? Absolutely! They were pissed because I came back from Dallas with both my ears gauged and a visible arm tattoo. The tenure committee didn’t accept my dossier because it was crap and submitted late. I knew at that point that I was never going to tenure at that University. It was at this moment when I started getting serious with my plans. The university was clearly not a good fit for me.


I took a week off during Thanksgiving time to help Richard heal his broken foot in London. When I got back to the University to close out the Fall semester, I was sat down by my Dean who told me that my faculty peers met with him as a group to tell him how they didn’t like working with me because they felt I didn’t take my job seriously. Considering prior events, I intuitively knew this is where the path was heading, and I submitted my already-written resignation letter that I typed on the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh that same week with Richard (a rebellious act of travel on both of our parts).

2012 was the year to get the fuck out-of-dodge (Alabama), quick. I respectfully gave UA a nine-month termination date of August 2012. I moved out of my apartment in Birmingham in March and started commuting each week from Dallas. I created my adventure plan to start on May 1st to Bogota, Colombia. April 29th was the last academic day of the Spring semester and seeing that I was teaching online until my termination date, I took off. May 1st seemed to be the date I felt I needed to start my new chapter.

Professor Nomad Dr Michael Becerra counselor educator entrepreneur Barranquilla Colombia


Professor Nomad was always going to be my academic home as an independent educator and researcher, but I never knew how to launch the site. I started to curate articles related to my interests that were happening in Latin America. I created the blog but never started writing. I had the hardest time deciding on my niche seeing that I have a ton of interests!

I was working for a few online universities after I decided to stay in Barranquilla, but still never found a way to connect Professor Nomad with my interests of making it an educational and informative site. I had daydreams of my video stories being like an Anderson Cooper investigative story that set out to inform, or like an Anthony Bourdain travel show where I’d be talking to all the residents about their culture of food. But unfortunately, I didn’t have the skills or the experience in making those dreams come true.

Fast forward to the present–2017, I’m no longer teaching at for-profit online universities. I’m 100% trying to survive as an entrepreneur and creating different income streams. I’ve created a digital media company called Barranquilla Life where we inform (through articles and video) about the region through a cultural and tourism lens, as well as starting a Tex-Mex restaurant with an old-friend from the 90’s who I use to work in the restaurants with for years.


I’ve come full-circle with Professor Nomad with a better idea on how to develop this site. What I didn’t know back in 2012 was that I was setting off on a special interest educational adventure. After living in Colombia for five years, I feel like I have the experience I need to make Professor Nomad a portal for mental wellness and anything related to travel and education. Grief, life transitions, career changes, developmental issues (like mid-life crises) will be talked about as well and how travel can offer ways for developing mental wellness. I’m planning retreats for dissertation/thesis students who are needing the motivation to complete their work. I’m also available to provide counseling to persons going through life challenges and transitions, as well as editing services to professors who’s primary language is not English.