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Una Gran Profesora

Faculty member selected as top in field

Growing up in Brazil, Dr. Fernanda Ferreira only dreamed of pursuing higher education in the United States. Now the Bridgewater State University professor is among the best Spanish and Portuguese educators in America.

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese recently named the professor of global languages and literatures the 2022 Teacher of the Year at the college/university level, an award that those who know her best say reflects her longstanding commitment to student success.

“I was really shocked when I got it,” Ferreira said. “It’s a huge award.”

Ferreira attended high school in the United States while her mother was here temporarily on a visa. She was upset that she was unable to stay for college. But her mom, also a college professor, recognized her daughter’s potential from the start.

“She said to me, ‘It’s OK, you will come back (to the U.S.) for grad school,’” recalled Ferreira. “That showed how much trust she had in my abilities and that’s what happened. … She was definitely my role model.”

Ferreira, who has taught at BSU since 2001, is now the mentor and cheerleader for countless Bridgewater students.

“Dr. Ferreira’s teaching evaluations by students and faculty show she is an instructor who has a great impact on students’ ability to learn the material and use it in meaningful ways,” said Dr. Ryan LaBrozzi, the chairperson of the Department of Global Languages and Literatures. “She brings a plethora of energy and enthusiasm into the classroom and encourages all students to learn and achieve success in the foreign language.”

Ferreira’s dedication sometimes manifests itself in unique ways. Once, when she was teaching a program for Brockton High School students, Ferreira drove a van to bring the students to BSU. Otherwise, she said, they would have never made it to class.

At BSU, she encounters many students whose families are from the Azores and speak a different dialect of Portuguese than she learned growing up in Brazil. Those distinctions help enrich the class.

“My philosophy of teaching is humility, because I don’t have all the answers,” she said. “Students let me know if I say something wrong or that doesn’t match what their experience is.”

Ferreira hopes her students embrace their language skills and use them to explore new cultures.

“I hope they feel confident that they can continue to learn the language,” she said.

She will formally receive the Teacher of the Year award in July at a conference in Puerto Rico.

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