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Professor Martha Castañeda passes her curiosity and passion for education onto her students

Martha Castañeda received the President's Medal in 2021 for her dedication to the Miami community.
Martha Castañeda received the President's Medal in 2021 for her dedication to the Miami community.

Through curiosity and passion, Martha Castañeda, professor and director of foreign language education at Miami University, has dedicated her career to furthering her field.

“I love working with the students who are curious and eager to become teachers,” Castañeda said.

Castañeda was born in Honduras and went to college in Florida to begin her undergraduate academic career. Though she originally wanted to be a math teacher, her first job was teaching Spanish at a high school in Florida. From there, she completed a master's degree at the University of Florida, motivated by a desire to continue learning. 

Following her master’s, Castañeda began teaching Spanish at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she was inspired to pursue greater knowledge.

“I just wanted to know more about how students learn languages and what role technology could play in helping students learn languages,” Castañeda said.

This desire to learn pushed her to enter a Ph.D. program, after which she began a job as a professor at DePaul University. There, she taught for some years before moving to teach at Miami. 

Castañeda is interested in the theory of how languages are learned and appreciates Miami’s teacher-scholar model. Just as she never intended to become a Spanish teacher, she didn’t originally plan on becoming a professor.  

“It was mainly out of curiosity to learn more about my field,” she said. 

Erin Fetters, a senior in Miami’s foreign language education program, said Castañeda’s dedication benefits her students’ education. Fetters said because of Castañeda’s skills and education, she provides her students with opportunities for professional growth.

“Our education doesn’t just stop in her classroom,” Fetters said. “She’s giving us ways to continue our education and become better educators when we leave college.” 

Caleb Suddith, who graduated from the foreign language education program in April, took classes with Castañeda and also had her as his academic advisor. 

"The way that she spoke to the group [in class] was great. You could tell she wanted us to develop into the best versions of ourselves as teachers," Suddith said. "I couldn't imagine a better mentor, professor and eventually, colleague."

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In the coming semester, Castañeda is most excited to work more with Miami students and diversify her research area. 

“I'm always excited to work at Miami … I've seen Miami grow in a lot of ways and become more diverse, so that's been wonderful especially since I teach foreign language education.” 

cicognij@miamioh.edu

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