Maria-Elena Martinez

Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography
Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography

USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

My ten years of experience in the classroom and in academe more generally means that I have the responsibility to share my knowledge with my students and help them to become scholars who always strive for excellence in their chosen fields. My goals as a teacher and mentor have thus been to strengthen their critical thinking skills, intellectual confidence, and ethos of academic and professional integrity. But mentorship is a reciprocal process, and therein resides its value. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work with remarkable graduate students.

Not only have they been extremely bright and hard-working, but when serving as my teaching assistants, they also have demonstrated deep dedication to their own students. They have shared with me their intellectual interests, their love of teaching, and their desires to use their education to create a better world, all of which has inspired me and enriched my own professional life. Like education in general, mentorship is thus a collaborative process, in which knowledge is created, as the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire wrote more than four decades ago, with faith, love, and hope. I am grateful to my students for enhancing my own understanding and I can think of few things that are as professionally rewarding as being recognized by them for being a good teacher and mentor.