Faculty Profile: Leticia Guardiola-Sáenz, Ph.D.

July 31, 2018

Born and raised in the borderlands of Mexico-U.S., Leticia learned to navigate and inhabit the in-betweenness of colliding worlds at an early age and that became a theme of her academic work. She grew up with a love of horseback riding, Mozart, and classical guitar, and she also grew up in a Mexican Baptist home, which means she started reading and memorizing the Bible at the age of five. Every summer, from age 5 to 15 she enthusiastically attended Vacation Bible School where she won most Bible contests whether they involved detailed knowledge of Bible stories or the memorization of long passages.

As the third of four sisters, it was obvious to her that every story had at least four sides, which knowledge came handy as she continued to study Bible, particularly while debating misogynistic interpretations of the text in her conservative church. Knowing as a young adult that she wouldn’t be allowed to be a pastor in her denomination, even when she felt called to ministry, she went to college to study accounting and to the conservatory for classical guitar. Upon graduation, she began working at her father’s accounting firm and taught Taxation Law at a Commercial Institute, and she also found herself teaching Classical Guitar at an Art School. After a year of this, she had to admit her heart was not in numbers, it was in letters and she returned to school to pursue a degree in Spanish Literature. Literary studies opened for her yet new ways of reading the Bible and led her to Chicago and an MA in Biblical Studies, an MDiv and eventually a Ph.D. in New Testament from Vanderbilt.

Prior to coming to Seattle University in 2008, Leticia taught at Andover Newton Theological School and at Drew Theological School.  During summers she enjoys teaching and writing for diverse Latinx groups and mentoring new Latinx scholars with the Hispanic Theological Initiative. She also teaches at various Theological Schools, and at the Methodist Academy for Spiritual Formation. No doubt, Sophia works not only in mysterious ways but has a sense of humor!  Although Leticia was not allowed to preach the Bible from a Baptist pulpit in Mexico, for being a woman, she now gets to train others (women and men) to read (and preach) the Bible in new and liberating ways so they can bring about a better world where everyone is included. She is currently co-editing a Latinx Commentary of the New Testament and writing on the Gospel and Letters of John.