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Gloria Duarte: Lessons in English and Life

August 23, 2007

Despite starting grade school without knowing a word of English, ironically, Dr. Gloria Duarte is now the longest tenured professor in the ASU English Department.

As a result of her life experiences, Duarte delivers to her students much more than just lessons on composition and literature, but also tips on culture and life. In her lectures, Duarte likes to connect what she is teaching and what it means in the Hispanic culture. She also encourages students to learn a second language.

“It’s things like that that I enjoy talking about in class besides just ’here is what we are studying today,” Duarte said. “So, whenever I can, I talk about the Hispanic culture and things that I went through when I was in school to make them aware that I have been where they have been.”

A 30-year ASU faculty member, Duarte was a finalist for the 2007 Excellence in Teaching Award. Over the years she has seen thousands of students come through her classrooms.

“I enjoy the students, having different students every semester so that every 16 weeks there is a new group that comes in,” Duarte said. “Sometimes what is funny is that the ones you think like you the least are the ones who keep appearing in your classes. It’s very rewarding when you have students who say you somehow influenced them. Sometimes you find out that the quiet ones sitting in the back are the ones you reach.”

However, it’s amazing that Duarte even became an English teacher since she began elementary school in Menard not knowing the language. Not allowed to speak Spanish, she calls her early school days “the long silence” until she learned English by observing and mimicking the other students.

Perhaps because of that, Duarte says her proudest achievement is getting a Mexican-American literature class added to her department in 1998.

Duarte holds a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University, master’s degree from ASU and Ph.D. from Texas Tech. In her spare time she likes to paint and spend time with daughter Alexis and granddaughter Serena.