In 2009, María Madrigal Piceno and her parents moved from a small town in Michoacan, Mexico, to the United States. Two years later, she graduated from Atwater High School.
“When I first arrived in this country, I faced the challenge of learning a new language and a new culture, but this has only increased my desire to continue learning,” said Madrigal.
She went to Merced Community College before transferring to Fresno State, where, in 2016, she achieved her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and was named the Student of Distinction for the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (MCLL) department.
As a graduate student in the MCLL Spanish program, she has overcome the hardships of poverty and an hour and twenty-minute commute each way while continuing to demonstrate a true passion for knowledge.
“She stood out among other students because of her demeanor: her desire to learn more, to be a better scholar, the focus she has, are relentless, matched by her humility and lack of ego,” said Dr. Paula Sanmartin, Professor.
For the last three years, Madrigal has worked as a teaching associate (TA) lecturing in Spanish 1A and 1B at Fresno State–which she regarded as an excellent opportunity to develop her skills as an educator. She has twice been nominated for outstanding TA of the year.
“María is a calm and patient instructor who exposes her lessons clearly and delicately and makes sure that all her students move forward with her. The atmosphere in her classes is particularly friendly and relaxed, and the students are always involved and at ease,” said Dr. Rafael Lemus, assistant professor.
With a focus on Caribbean literature, Madrigal has twice presented at the Annual Central California Research Symposium. She has also been a member of the Asociación para la Promoción de las culturas en español (APCE) club where she has served as vice-president and treasurer.
Following graduation, Madrigal hopes to get a job at Merced Community College teaching Spanish language and Latin American Literature. She also plans to earn her doctorate and become a professor of Latin American Literature.