An Emory & Henry professor of Spanish has been honored by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, becoming the latest on a long list of E&H faculty members to receive state or national recognition for teaching excellence.
Dr. Alma Ramirez has been awarded the 2014 H. Hiter Harris Rising Star Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She becomes the second E&H professor to be honored by the VFIC since it began its awards program seven years ago. Emory & Henry also becomes the first institution in Virginia to be honored twice by the VFIC.
Ramirez’s teaching is marked by a desire to prepare students for success in a multi-lingual, diverse world.
I know this sounds perhaps overly idealistic, even cliché. Still, I am driven by this purpose, because, as an Hispanic woman in rural Southwest Virginia, I confront the challenges of cultural difference almost daily. At the same time, while I work with young people from this area, I am moved by the enthusiasm that they demonstrate to transport themselves and others across this divide.Dr. Alma Ramirez
Professor of Foreign Languages at Emory & Henry College
Since coming to Emory & Henry in 2010, Ramirez began a Spanish club and honor society. In addition, she has worked across campus to promote Emory & Henry’s culture of civic engagement in projects such as a migrant health fair, which she organized and which provides the local Hispanic community access to free medical exams and information about local and regional services. She also has promoted at Emory & Henry the Pulsera Project, a non-profit organization that empowers young Nicaraguan artisans through the sale of hand-woven bracelets.
Her research has been published in significant journals such as Hispania, and she has made numerous conference presentations, during which she often shares the research spotlight with students. This past summer, she attended a seminar on globalization at the National Humanities during a summer when she also did fieldwork in Mexico.
According to Dr. Celeste Gaia, the E&H director of international education, Ramirez promotes language learning experiences for students that help to meet both student and community needs. “She integrates her scholarly and experiential knowledge of second language acquisition and global awareness by promoting positive language learning experiences for students, encouraging study abroad, giving back to the community, and maintaining the importance of scholarship, all which provide Emory & Henry College graduates with the skills they need for success in a global society.”
The award for Ramirez represents the 17th time in 26 years (and the seventh time in the past six years) that an Emory & Henry professor has won a state or national award for teaching excellence. “All institutions across the country will claim to have quality teachers. After all, quality teaching should be the hallmark of any institution that considers itself excellent. But few institutions across the country can match this documented and extraordinary record of teaching success,” said Dirk Moore, E&H director of Public Relations.