Program Director | Esteban Hernandez

Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary
M.Div. Columbia Theological Seminary
BA Baylor University (Psychology, Religion)

Esteban Hernandez has been teaching at Esperanza College since 2005. He earned a Bachelor of Art from Baylor University, majoring in Psychology and Religion, while minoring in English, before getting a Masters of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, where he focused on the development of theological precepts across time while working in youth ministry. He continued education, obtaining a Master in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with an emphasis on the interaction between theology and philosophical and scientific inquiry. His thesis compared the theological underpinnings of Original Sin and the advent of Homo sapiens in evolutionary theory. Since working at the Hispanic Theological Initiative, Prof. Hernandez has developed an interest in connecting higher education and the Christian Realist practice of critical thinking as a tool uncovering hidden pockets of sin both in individuals and social structures. He is currently looking to enroll into a Ph. D. program on higher education to study methods of nurturing critical thinking skills among educationally-impoverished conditions.

He currently manages and teaches various courses in the humanities where his interests continue to hone into the human condition: the evaluation of justice claims and developing a healthy skepticism and mutual respect among equally flawed but beautifully created human beings. He emphasizes the realism of the Biblical narrative and the frailty and brokenness of its heroes and heroines and believes in the empowerment of God’s Grace to aid humans in overcoming broken systems and conditions in our world today.

He teaches at Esperanza College because it is located in a largely marginalized area of Philadelphia, surrounded by a lively conversation for what constitutes justice. In accordance to Eastern University’s mission, Esperanza College enables individual expressions of faith as it carries out the tasks of Faith, Reason, and Justice, providing a natural home for enabling voices to engage in critical reasoning as they seek out their encounters with injustice. In this context, he hopes to provide passion and healthy skepticism that will enable students to question and challenge human authorities and realize their own voices can be vehicles for both social and personal improvement.

Courses taught: 
BIBL 100 | The Biblical World in Contemporary Context
BIBL 101 | Nature and Meaning of the Old Testament
INST 150 | Introduction to Faith, Reason, and Justice
INST 161 | Heritage of Western Thought & Civilization: The Modern World
INST 270 | Justice in a Pluralistic Society
THEO 210 | Foundations of Christian Spirituality

Beth Baker

Master’s in Elementary Education, Chestnut Hill College, 2007
Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, Moravian College, 1998

Elizabeth Baker enjoys British and Irish literature, especially from the Victorian era.  Some of her favorite authors include the Bronte sisters and Oscar Wilde.  As an elementary school science teacher, she was chosen to be part a program jointly sponsored by The University of Pennsylvania and Merck.  As a member of this cohort, they were immersed in various scientific topics and visited related sites of interest throughout the city of Philadelphia. She appreciates being a part of such a diverse teaching faculty.  Esperanza is a unique place in that each student is really valued as an individual and professors are encouraged to know each student and work toward his/her own strengths.  In her English classes, Professor Baker tries to provide students with challenging and interesting material in a fair and open environment.  All experiences and opinions are important and welcomed in her classroom.

Courses taught: 
ENGL 101 | Introduction to Academic English
ENGL 102 | College Writing
ENGL 220 | Studies in the Novel and Short Fiction

Valerie Quackenbush

Valerie Quackenbush has been with Esperanza since 2004 and teaches College Writing and Introduction to Special Education. She has over twenty-five years of teaching experience in ESL/Bilingual, Special Education, Alternative Education and Spanish. She strives to create a nurturing and challenging environment for her students which will support them as they pursue their educational and professional goals. 

Courses Taught: 
CSCI 110 | Computer Literacy
ENGL 101 | Introduction to Academic English
ENGL 102 | College Writing
EDUC 201 | Introduction to Special Education


James Robertson

Continuing Education in Holocaust Studies, Gratz College
MA in Modern European History, Washington State University
BA in History and Secondary Education, Grove City College 
AA in Business Administration and Computer Science, MCCC Accounting 

Professor Robertson’s area of expertise is in the field of History, having taught Western Civilization, US History and Political Science as an adjunct professor. His specialty is in the study of the Holocaust. He has taught ten years as an adjunct professor at several studies after a career in distribution management. He is a former USAF officer having served as a criminal-counter intelligence investigator and as a missile combat crew commander. He teaches at Esperanza because of the student body and the emphasis on faith, justice, and reason. His students can expect a professional instructor who will work with them to achieve their dream.

Courses taught: 
INST 161 | Heritage of Western Thought & Civilization: The Modern World

David Solivan

“CUTS” Center of Urban Theological Studies seminary
Master in Education, Eastern University
B.A. Biblical Studies, Geneva College

Professor David Solivan has lived in Philadelphia for over 37 years. He raised his family and has ministered in various capacities in Philadelphia. God has called him to serve in Philadelphia in particular the North Philadelphia Hunting Park area for over 37 years. He has been a pastor, church planter, preacher, teacher and ruling elder at New Life Presbyterian church in Olney. God has made Esperanza the place where Professor Solivan serves our community. He has served at Esperanza since 1995 in many positions, First Director of “Betances Job Training Program”, board member of Esperanza Academy Charter School, Executive council member of Esperanza College of Eastern University, vice chair Board of Esperanza Cyber School, Chair and Board member of Eastern North Philadelphia Workforce Corporation (ENPWC). He has also served at Esperanza Academy Charter School as Director of Instruction, Director of Student Development, Director of Family and Community. He has supported the development of Esperanza Academy climate and culture. He is blessed that he has seen what God has done in our community through Esperanza the past 21 years and he expects God’s work to continue.

Courses Taught: 
BIOL 104/BIOL 104L | Human Biology


Christine Tolbert

Ed.D (ABD), Grambling State University
M.Ed., Cabrini College
B.A., Eastern University

Professor Tolbert believes in the mission of Esperanza College and the mission of Eastern University. Esperanza is an institution of opportunity, and she understands and appreciates students of all backgrounds and strives to help each student recognize and achieve his/her potential. 

Professor Tolbert has taught English, Communications, and Education courses at many colleges and universities in the area including Valley Forge Military College, the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, Montgomery County Community College, and Gwynedd Mercy University. She has an interest in Developmental Education research.

Courses taught: 
ENGL 101 | Introduction to Academic English
ENGL 102 | College Writing

Robert Whitmire

Biblical Studies, Center of Urban Theological Studies

Pastor Rob Whitmire, a native of Philadelphia, serves as the Executive Director of Timoteo Sports, a youth mentoring organization, pastor of Grace & Peace Community Fellowship in Hunting Park, and has been an adjunct professor at Esperanza College of Eastern University for the past three years. He believes in the Mission and Vision at Esperanza College to serve and walk alongside each and every student for the sake of academic excellence and Spiritual growth. He feels that the Lord has called him to be in this place to pour out into the lives of our students with the hopes that those efforts would encourage each one to press forward to achieve the prize that they hope to gain during their time here. So that their lives would be a Living Testimony to others in our Urban Communities that God is at work in our City.

Courses Taught: 
CSCI 110 | Computer Literacy
COMM 120 | Public Speaking


Nyra Zaracho

M.B.A. in Management Eastern University
B.S. Spanish; Professional and Secondary Education West Chester University

Professor Nyra Zaracho’s career in higher education began at the Office of Admissions at West Chester University as an Assistant Director of Admissions. She moved to Philadelphia and continued my role in admissions and recruitment at Esperanza College. Upon earning my M.B.A. she was offered the opportunity to teach at Esperanza College. Throughout each position, her heart's desire has always been to positively influence and encourage students to discover and cultivate their potential through education.

Courses taught: 
SPAN 101A Elementary Spanish Part I
SOCI 100 Introduction to Sociology (Spanish track)
CSCI 110 Computer Literacy