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September 27, 2013

Language professor to receive honor

Dr. Maria Montoya of SUNY Oneonta’s Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures has been named the recipient of the college’s 2013 Ashok Kumar Malhotra Seva Faculty Award. 

Montoya will deliver the Seva Lecture, titled, “Building Inner Bridges to Allow My Worlds to Cross,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Craven Lounge of the Morris Conference Center. The presentation, and the dessert reception that precedes it, are free and open to the public.

Community service and service learning have been an integral part of Montoya’s work as an assistant professor of Spanish at SUNY Oneonta, according to a news release from SUNY Oneonta. Last month, she was one of two faculty members who served with a group of upperclassmen as volunteer mentors to 202 new students participating in the college’s annual Freshman Service Day.

Last year, Montoya taught a Spanish field course that combined cultural study, language immersion and service learning, the release said. Montoya collaborated with Dr. Carol Dean (Foreign Language Education) to design the course, which was open to students in all class years and academic majors.

Participants ranged from fluent speakers to students who didn’t any appreciable Spanish. In addition to class discussions and independent research, the 20 students in the course planned and carried out community-service projects during a 10-day trip to the Colombian island of San Andrés over spring break. Service-learning activities included collecting and distributing school and personal hygiene supplies, visiting with nursing home residents, and developing and leading crafts, games and other activities for groups of schoolchildren.

Montoya’s earned a Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics from SUNY Albany. Her research interests include heritage language maintenance, the possessive expression, understanding diversity in the public school system and Hispanic rural settlement.

The Ashok Kumar Malhotra Seva Faculty Award recognizes a SUNY Oneonta faculty member who exemplifies the ideals of compassionate service. SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Ashok Kumar Malhotra established the award in 2008 through an endowment to the College at Oneonta Foundation, which funds an award of $1,000 to each year’s recipient.

The college provost names award-winners based on a faculty selection committee’s recommendations. Criteria for the award include performing community service locally, nationally or internationally; demonstrating the ability to motivate and inspire others to perform community service; and integrating community service into the teaching and learning processes.

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