Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2006

Faculty Award winner

Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes

 College of Arts and Humanities

 English

I love teaching. For me the classroom is a place of excitement, energy, challenge and beauty. Many educational philosophies have influenced my pedagogy, the most important of which is a student-centered and dialogic approach. I strive to empower students, challenging them to become better critical thinkers, readers and writers of the word and of the world—regardless of the course content. I believe that the classroom is a site where all of the members should be actively engaged in their learning process and where I serve as a facilitator, resource and guide in this dialogic process. I believe that good teaching is honest, regenerative, inspiring, challenging and reflective.

It is important to me to make the literature and culture I teach come to life and whenever possible I arrange—including finding funding—to have authors, filmmakers, and activists visit UCF and my classes. Since my arrival at UCF, these have included Virgil Suarez, Ivonne Lamazares, Roberto Fernandez, Amy Serrano, Sylvia Mendez, Marjorie Agosin, Junot Diaz and Judith Ortiz Cofer.

To empower students, I find it important to promote and publish student work. I can confirm from my training and experience that students write well when they have choices for paper topics within frameworks that are flexible and where they can follow their own trains of thought. Since 2003, I have included new original work by six students in two books—one a reference guide and the other, an anthology to be used in writing, ethnic studies, and literature classes. I also coordinate campus exhibits of student artwork produced for my classes.

My dedication to teaching involves mentoring at all levels. I work closely with undergraduate students on various research projects and in programs such as RAMP/UP, LEADS, McNair, and SMART.

As a teacher I am both inspired and enriched by my students. It is a privilege and honor to be in their company, engaged in the making of meaning and knowledge.