Talk to incoming class fall 2021.
Good evening, I am Maria Cristina Montoya and I teach in the Foreign Languages and Literatures department since the new millennium started.
Allow me to recreate for you the three most important things I have learned about Oneonta:
We are a community that cares, helps each other, collaborates, recovers, and starts again.
I learned this in the classroom:
a) by observing my students diverse learning styles.
b) with my colleagues who collaborated to switch gears and teach fully online within a one week time frame.
c) with the entire institution by powering multiple TEAMS of us to plan, to act, to recover and to start again.
We are all about traditions.
Let me give you my three favorite traditions :
a) Before pandemic times, every fall, first day of classes we had an opening brunch in the middle of the quad. All students, faculty and employees ate and chatted together. It was exciting to see everyone back and eager to learn and to experience. It was really like a college carnival. I wish for that to happen again, after pandemic, when we all may eat together in a large group.
b) Ice cream for freshmen after passing through the pillars. It signifies their entrance into the four years of a “roller coaster ride” of their undergraduate education where they discover a lot of themselves, grow and become critical thinkers with coherent arguments to state their positions about themselves in the world. During the motivational clapping as they walk down to the quad, they all look like toddlers to me. This year I will have one of my own in the crowd, an Oneonta Native.
c) Champagne for seniors as they pass the pillars on their way out into the “real world”. This happens every graduation eve, and I do not miss the opportunity to celebrate with a drink to my graduates. I also collect the fancy champagne glasses that are given to keep. I cry and clap on that day, all of them are my own.
On April 4th, year 2000, during my job interview, I learned that Oneonta was the place I wanted to grow.
And “Ay Dios” if I have grown:
a) I grew a family, counting six members now, and an immigrant adopted dog from Colombia.
b) I grew a career in higher education:
- I learned to engage my students.
- I learned to challenge them to be creative and critical thinkers.
- I learned to guide them to be successful and passionate in all they do.
- I learned to master ideas, to propose and create fun applied learning experiences for my students, for example:
- Collaborative Online International learning, connecting my classroom to another classroom in the world.
- Faculty led-off courses abroad with students and faculty colleagues. I have done five of them and the adrenaline that runs through my blood during these experiences is hard to describe, I am mesmerized when I see their eyes upon discoveries.
- International faculty partnerships to enhance and diversify our teaching practice.
- Community outreach through the Multicultural Community Center, where students volunteer hours to serve local, national, and international communities by teaching languages and assisting children with any academic need. More importantly now, during pandemic when we are all learning online.
- Creativity in research and digital innovative projects owned by students and networked with Oneonta alumni, such as the “Living Bilingual Blog”.
There are a lot more examples that each faculty at Oneonta offers to engage our students.
c) I aged happily going to work. I must be thankful of my privilege. I am a lucky human being who loves to wake up every dawn, at 4am, to work. It is true, so if you are a student in my class, and sleep with your phone ON besides you bed, I will wake you up before the sun, with my daily announcements or reminders.
There are three things I learned about SUNY Oneonta:
1. We are a community.
2. We value traditions.
3. It is the place where I chose to grow.