Professor receives award for inspiring, motivating students

by Jessica Weaver

Professor Eden Torres doesn’t just teach her students, they teach her as well.

“We’re all teaching and learning in the classroom,” said Torres, a women’s studies professor.

In spring 2003, Torres was awarded the Arthur “Red” Motley Exemplary Teaching Award for faculty who inspire and motivate their students.

To receive the award, a professor must be nominated by at least five students. At least one of the awards is presented each year. Torres’

abilities to interact with and positively influence her students are some of the reasons she received the award.

“I like seeing those ‘aha’ moments, where something clicks,” Torres said. “(Students) begin to put their own experiences together with what they learn in class and they realize the course material has meaning in their own lives.”

Torres enjoys seeing students discover something that sparks passion in them during her classes.

“That’s when real learning takes place,” Torres said. “When they find something that interests them.”

Torres, who teaches an introduction to women’s studies course and a freshman seminar called “Literature as Revolution: Mexican American and Mexican Women Writers” (WoSt 1904), said she is not done having those ‘aha’ moments. She said she is always learning from her students.

During fall 2002, Torres said, her students gave her a new perspective on the lyrics of a Chicano rap song during a Chicano music and art course.

Kate Egelhof, a history junior, said Torres and the women’s studies course she teaches made her think about her role as a woman in the 21st century and how women achieved their current status.

“It made me realize that I take for granted a lot of the privileges I have,” Egelhof said.

Torres received an undergraduate degree in women’s and Chicano studies from the University in 1989, and an American studies doctorate from the University in 1998. She began teaching during her first year of graduate school and has been a professor at the University since 1998. The award included $5,000, which Torres uses for her research on Chicanos and the law.

Torres’ first book, “Chicano Without Apology,” came out this October and is a collection of essays covering a variety of topics.