Eugenia Blanco-Mazur, a visiting assistant professor (VAP) in Miami University’s Spanish and Portuguese Department, had two major passions growing up: medicine and literature.
She was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. At 17 years old, she received a scholarship to one of the best universities in her country, the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. At Mexican universities, students choose their final degree path right after high school and can’t change it, unlike in the U.S.
“I was thinking of all the things that I liked,” Blanco-Mazur said, “but the system was not designed for you to make any choices afterwards … Now that I’m older … and I work with [students], I love that we have all these undecided majors and all this ability to switch because you’re growing up and you change. You’re really getting to know yourself.”
Blanco-Mazur said she always wanted to help underserved communities and be involved in public health. It helped that she liked science and was good at it too.
“I really love the social part of medicine in the sense that you serve communities, as has always been at the center of my being,” Blanco-Mazur said.
Blanco-Mazur left Mexico for six months to go to the exchange program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to do a rotation in telemedicine. There, she met her husband, an intern in his first year of residency.
She moved to Houston to be with him, and they got married. After, the couple moved to North Carolina where they had kids and then relocated to Cincinnati when the kids were older.
Blanco-Mazur was a stay-at-home mom for a bit and took a few courses at the Women Writing for (a) Change school and foundation. Then, she went back to school at the University of Cincinnati to get her master’s in literature which she has been very passionate about for most of her life. She said she is proud of herself for still following her dreams because it wasn’t easy to get an education with two kids at home.
“That's another decision when I left medicine, was to not immediately pursue another degree, because I had the opportunity and privilege to stay with my children,” Blanco-Mazur said. “But that was also a loss. So every choice also brings the loss of something else and to learn to let go of that and focus on the future [is important].”
After earning her master’s, Blanco-Mazur pursued her doctoral degree in romance languages at the University of Cincinnati, where she met Fernanda Diaz-Basteris, who was in the master’s program and is now a professor of Latino studies at Georgia State University.
Diaz-Basteris said Blanco-Mazur was extremely generous and welcoming. Blanco-Mazur was happy that another Mexican person was accepted to the program and took Diaz-Basteris under her wing since she was new to the U.S. They worked together as teaching assistants in Spanish classes. They also served together as president (Blanco-Mazur) and vice president (Diaz-Basteris) of the Graduate Student Association of Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures.
“She’s a great friend, a great colleague and a great professor,” Diaz-Basteris said.
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After working at UC from 2011 to 2020, Blanco-Mazur started working as a VAP at Miami. Faculty can work on yearly contracts as VAPs for up to five years, after which they are either brought up to a full-time position or leave the university.
Stella Walker, a junior Spanish education major with a co-major in Spanish, said she wants Blanco-Mazur to stay in Oxford.
“I really hope that she stays with us here because she's the best professor for Spanish that I've ever had in my entire life,” Walker said.
Walker, who hopes to become a Spanish teacher, took SPN352, History of Spain, last fall. She said Blanco-Mazur enacted everything Walker was taught to do as a teacher in her education classes. Blanco-Mazur collaborates with students, does community engagement projects and makes sure the students' voices are heard.
Katelyn Grant, a junior double major in Spanish and international studies with a Latin American studies minor, who also took Blanco-Mazur’s SPN352 class, said she prefers an orderly classroom, and Blanco-Mazur is a very go-with-the-flow kind of teacher.
“As a student sometimes I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is happening in this classroom,’ but as the semester went on, I got more used to it and saw that her expectation wasn't that you need to check all the boxes, she just wanted you to be there and engage with her,” Grant said.
Blanco-Mazur doesn't consider her time as a medical physician a waste because she gained discipline, rigor in academics, a strong work ethic and concern for all people.
“I like the idea that people will evolve just like art evolves,” Blanco-Mazur said, “and you know, we have to adapt to the new changes.”