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From Argentina to MC

Kaylin Smith
Diana Ruggiero
Although she is miles away from her native Argentina, Diana Ruggiero said her transition to Monmouth College has been an easy one.

“I love how the current faculty is so supportive of new faculty members,” said MC’s new assistant professor of modern foreign languages. “I feel very comfortable here.”

Ruggiero said she especially values the new information she has acquired about learning and teaching.

“I was able to attend a couple of ACM conferences that truly helped me. One, in particular, which focused on metacognition, involved designing a questionnaire that would help students reflect on their learning and study skills,” which she has begun incorporating in her classes.

“Monmouth College is making me a better professor every day – I constantly change for the better,” she said.

When asked what message she would like to give to students about furthering their education and reaching their career goals, Ruggiero passionately explained that students should challenge themselves and try new things.

“Today we have the Internet – an ocean of information – but we need to learn how to swim so we do not drown. We, the professors, are here to help you find the better ways to swim in this ocean of knowledge. But ultimately, students need to make the strokes.”

Her message to students who seek an understanding of the world through higher education is similar to the values she held during her own journey. Raised by two hard-working doctors, it was natural for Ruggiero to become interested in pursuing a career in medicine. But after a short stint at medical school, she discovered what she wanted most was to submerge herself in another culture.

Having heard about the value of freedom in America and about its vast range of opportunities, she decided to study at Ohio State University, earning a Ph.D. in Latin American literature and culture. Her dissertation incorporated ethnographic research and a documentary film project that she had created as a Fulbright Fellow.

While pursuing her Ph.D., Ruggiero traveled to Ecuador to conduct a cultural study on the Afro-Ecuadorians, with a focus on music. Through her study of Latin American culture, she developed an interest in education in its entirety.

An advocate for learning, Ruggiero stresses the importance of travel and of enveloping oneself in another cultural environment. She advises her students to experience education through different lenses, even if it means journeying to another part of the world to do so.

“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and become a citizen of another country,” Ruggiero said. “I had to learn a new language, cultural codes and ideas. I had to put myself in the shoes of another person.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Ruggiero was in the shoes of her current students, trying to learn or master a new language. Hopefully, many of her students today will follow in her footsteps and benefit from an educational experience outside of their comfort zone.