Coming to Meredith College as part of a professor exchange program in 2001, Bolivia native and recent U.S. citizen Monica Ruiz is passionate about helping students learn a second language and inspiring them to travel the world.
Ruiz was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she received her undergraduate degree. She also completed further education in England and Vermont. Experiencing the differences between the education systems in Bolivia and the United States has inspired her to return to her home country with tips and helpful tactics to better the system.
“Bolivia is a country in development,” Ruiz said. “The organization and access to materials, such as technology, are totally different here. Coming to the States was an expansion of my knowledge and skills; it was a dream come true.”
Ruiz said she always dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen, but never thought it would come to fruition. Back in 2001, Meredith was involved in a two-way exchange program with a university in Bolivia, which is how Ruiz first came to teach at Meredith. She returned permanently in 2012 as a Spanish instructor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
“I love being at a women’s college where students are interested in knowing about other cultures and want to improve their language skills,” said Ruiz. “Most importantly, I’m thrilled to be back in the place where I first started in the States.” One of Ruiz’s goals and hopes for Meredith is to reinstate the professor exchange program.
Since beginning her citizenship journey in 2012, Ruiz has spent many long years working to become an official U.S. citizen. On January 27, 2017, Ruiz became a U.S. citizen. Many of her students at Meredith attended the ceremony, as well as other faculty coming together in a celebration later that day.
Although Ruiz hopes to have a cultural influence on her students, she has been impacted by the students here at Meredith herself. She mentions a specific time when she was walking into Lux Hall carrying several bags, and a student ran all the way from the library to open the door for her.
“She didn’t have to do that for me.” said Ruiz. “I’m always so impressed by the politeness and respect here at Meredith. It’s the little things that are important, and it shows their good values.”
Reflecting on her journey from Bolivia, Ruiz is grateful for Meredith and all it has given her. “I am just thrilled to be here,” Ruiz said. “This is where I started and I hope to continue here forever. I’m lucky to have met my husband, Associate Professor of Communication Doug Spero, at Meredith and I’m grateful for my time here.”
By Molly Horton, ’17