"I believe that good first-year advising can make a difference in the subsequent success of a Luther student."
Rita Tejada loves reading, researching, analyzing, and writing about literature because they are foundational components of her career. “My main goal is to promote Dominican literature and its writers,” she says. “To that end, I attend national and international conferences to present papers that later have become published books, essays, and articles in academic journals and websites about Dominican themes.”
As a sabbatical project, Tejada produced an annotated edition of Cosas añejas. Tradiciones y episodios de Santo Domingo. It is a nineteenth century book from the Dominican Republic and is being published by Archivo General de la Nación in the Dominican Republic.
“One of my ongoing research projects is a critical analysis of Arturo Rodríguez Fernández’s literary production (Arturo Rodríguez Fernández, In Memoriam: sus trabajos literarios),” Tejada says. “Arturo Rodríguez Fernández was a Dominican writer who died in 2010. The resulting research will be a book about this writer’s plays, short stories, and novel. I’m also in the process of gathering material to write a paper on comic strips drawn by Latin American women.”
Tejada has taught eight J-Term courses abroad to Spain, Peru, Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. She says that teaching these courses is the most positive effort a faculty member can make to foster the cultural awareness of students and round out their education as global citizens.
“The highlight of these courses is to see Luther students engage in community service activities such as painting a shelter for victims of domestic violence, playing with HIV orphans, or improvising a song for residents of a nursing home, as well as embracing a country, its culture, and its people while putting in practice their Spanish language skills,” she says. “For example, because of these trips, some Luther students have organized school supply drives for a rural Dominican school, decided to pursue a Spanish major, or gone back to the countries they studied in to spend more time with their host families and friends they met.”
In addition to being a faculty member in the Spanish Department, Tejada serves students as first-year advisor. “This task is very important to me because I believe that good first-year advising can make a difference in the subsequent success of a Luther student,” she says. “Throughout my years at Luther, I’ve also served as member in different academic committees on campus and am currently the adviser to Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society and the Spanish Table coordinator.”
Tejada’s career path includes her receiving a B.A. in education with majors in philosophy and literature and becoming an instructor/researcher after graduation. She arrived in the United States a few years later as a Fulbright Scholar and went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. degree.
Tejada is a member of American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Latin American Studies Association (LASA), and Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC).