Professor Anna María Escobar receives LAS award for graduate student mentoring



Anna María Escobar, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, is the recipient of the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS).

Professor Escobar has had a major impact on graduate student scholarship and professional development. Her placement of students attests to how well she prepares her students to obtain prestigious jobs in and outside the academia. Her former students have obtained tenure track jobs at Research I institutions such as, University of California-Berkeley, University of Oregon (Eugene), and University of Nebraska (Lincoln), to name a few.

Outside academia, her former advisee, Amy Firestone (Ph.D. 2012) secured a position at the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Dr. Firestone recently participated in the Spanish department’s Professional Lecture Series, where she acknowledged publicly her debt with the invaluable mentoring provided for Professor Escobar, whom she considers key to her success.

As Justin Davidson, who graduated from Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and who is currently Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of California-Berkeley, states with regard to his former advisor, "I believe it fitting to state, in earnest and with my deepest respect, that my academic laurels rest on Professor Escobar's shoulders, a direct product of her unwavering support."

Davidson’s statement is something on which all of her former and current students agree. More importantly, it is rewarding that some of them chose to follow their teacher’s example, both in the focus of their work (bilingualism, Spanish heritage speakers, linguistic and cultural contact between Spanish and indigenous languages of the Americas) as well as Professor Escobar’s commitment to social justice and equality.

“If I had to summarize Professor Escobar’s approach to professional mentoring,” said Mariselle Meléndez, Professor and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, “ I would have to start with her emphasis on professional development within and beyond the classroom, for her guidance exceeds the time spent within the walls of the university. Her outstanding mentoring abilities are consistent with her equally excellent teaching record, recognized in 2001 with the LAS Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her professional impact is unquestionable, as is the fact that she constitutes a great example of outstanding mentoring and leadership.”

The Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring is one of many honors annually bestowed upon U of I faculty. Faculty members are nominated for these awards. The College’s Awards Committee reviews all nominations and selections for these awards.