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Meet Our Professors: Iliana Portaro, Spanish

Dr. Iliana Portaro ow an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages and Philosophy for five years, she has recently started teaching a course on Latin American Women Writers, which was a success and is her main area of research.

Assistant Professor of Spanish

Department of Languages and Philosophy

How long have you been working at SUU?
5 years

Where did you grow up?
Lima, Perú and Santa Ana, California

Where did you attend college and what did you study?
-Bachelor’s in English and Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara
-Master's in Spanish Literature at University of California, Davis
-Doctorate in Latin American Literatures and Cultures from University of California, Davis

Where did you work before coming to SUU?
As a graduate student I taught Spanish at the University of California, Davis.

What do you feel is the most interesting thing about Spanish?
If someone decides to study Spanish, they learn the language and also discover that it is an interdisciplinary field. As a Spanish major/minor, you can take courses in culture, history, linguistics, literature, film, gender studies, etc. The most interesting aspect for me is that there is always something to learn and new aspects to consider.

Favorite thing to teach about Spanish?
I teach a variety of courses and topics, all of which reflect the interdisciplinarity of my field. Last spring, I taught an upper-division course on Latin American Women Writers. Right now this is one of my favorite courses because my students and I worked really hard and challenged one another to think in new ways. This resulted in phenomenal conversations and essays about feminism, gender roles, intersectionality, Latin American history, and the inclusion of women in the literary canon.  

What do you love about SUU?
A liberal-arts institution that emphasizes excellence in teaching and experiential learning is the perfect fit for me. I like to interact with my students, learn from and about them, and constantly evaluate what I do to better suit their needs. My colleagues are bright, engaged, and kind. They are a key component of why I love SUU.