Whether it’s in the classroom, on campus, or out in the community, Professor Rodríguez Quevedo’s radiant personality leaves people feeling inspired, welcomed, and seen. These qualities made me question: How did UE get so lucky to have her as a professor? What drives Professor Rodríguez-Quevedo to serve college students, the campus, and the community? What valuable lessons and perspectives can she share with others?

Dr. Diana Rodríguez Quevedo has been a Spanish Associate Professor at UE for thirteen years. She began her teaching career in childhood education. After twenty years, she decided to continue pursuing higher education. As a first-generation college student, she refused to listen to gender-discriminatory comments from family members and received her Bachelor’s from University of Toronto. After ten years of balancing a job and night classes to earn her Bachelor’s, she applied for her Master’s degree. She began studying French to English translation but realized she craved social interactions. She later discovered her love for literature. Literature allowed her to delve into politics, psychology, sociology, history, and many other areas. Getting her masters in Spanish was her way of reconnecting to her Colombian roots and learning about her culture and language.

She received her PhD in Spanish with a specialization in Latin American Literature from the University of Toronto. The PhD opportunities after graduation in Canada were limited, so she knew she would have to leave her family and move to the U.S. Although she experienced culture shock in Evansville, Rodríguez Quevedo enjoyed the Spanish program at UE because she could teach different courses and serve in various capacities. One teaching method she likes is “Staying out of the way as much as possible.” She prefers to give students the space to lead, interact with native speakers, get out of the classroom, and have hands-on experiences. She explained, “When students are out of the classroom, there are emotional components like being nervous or scared, that only natural spaces like the mall or a kitchen can push students to feel and express those emotions in Spanish and not default to English.”

Dr. Rodríguez Quevedo is the Director of the University of Evansville Eykamp Center for Teaching Excellence, which is focused on pedagogy, and in her role, she guides new faculty through their first year. She serves as the Chair of the University of Evansville Honor Council, which deals with plagiarism cases on the UE campus. As an interpreter for the medical A+PT program, she enjoys interpreting for non-English speaking and feels it’s her way of giving back. Offering guest lectures in different courses on campus and organizing events for Hispanic Heritage Month are other forms she participates in. Dr. Rodríguez Quevedo is the Advisor for the Hispanic Latinx Student Union Club, where students from diverse backgrounds can interact, connect, and strengthen their language skills.

This past October, Dr. Rodríguez Quevedo was the moderator for the Q&A portion of the event with Eduardo Chavez, grandson of civil rights activist César Chávez, hosted by the University of Evansville Center of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. When asked about the importance of having guest speakers like Eduardo Chavez, she said, “Representation matters because it is valuable for students to see themselves represented.” The event was open to campus and the community, allowing people to share life experiences and come together. She explains that “people connect through our historia. That’s why the community needs to listen to the life stories of minority leaders to celebrate and discuss difficult and painful experiences, to show how far we have come.” One of the life lessons she shared is, “We are all works in progress. It is never too late to fix a mistake, never too late for a second chance, and never too late to do what you would have loved to do. Failing and apologizing are parts of the process.” Because “El que no comete errores es porque no hace nada.” (“He who does not make mistakes is because he does nothing”). Furthermore, after interviewing Profesora Rodríguez Quevedo, I realized her passion is her drive, and her strength should inspire us to make mistakes and follow our passions.

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