Student of Distinction: Laura Cortez

Student of Distinction: Laura Cortez

Laura Cortez is a graduate student receiving her M.A. Spanish Literature. She is the Dean’s Medal nominee for the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

“What I remember most about Laura in the classroom are the quality and warmth of her participation, always willing to share her knowledge and findings with her classmates, and her always rigorous and professional attitude,” said Rafael Lemus.

Cortez is a first-generation college student. As a child, she struggled to have a stable education. Her family migrated to California during the crop season and returned to Mexico after working in the scorching heat for several months. Her biggest obstacles were constantly switching schools, keeping up with academics and trying to learn a new language. Therefore, she believes being a first-generation college student is her biggest academic accomplishment.

She was allowed to stay in the U.S. with her uncles as a sophomore in high school. Despite not having her parents by her side, she was an excellent student and worked hard to make up for her lost credits after not having a freshman year.

She joined clubs such as HYLC and Link Crew throughout high school and college. In college, she joined the Interlati@s Spanish club, where she helped plan cultural activities. Outside of school, she was part of the youth group at her local church. She got a job as a Mini Corps migrant tutor and worked with at-risk migrant students to help them achieve their goals. She believes that is where she discovered her passion for teaching.

Cortez graduated from California State University, Stanislaus in 2016 with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Sociology. The following year she graduated from the credential program and got a job teaching Spanish.

“Laura Cortez is a quiet, mature, organized, respectful, and applied student. It was great having her in class, and I am very happy that she is receiving this recognition, as she has worked very hard to combine the demands of her full-time job as a high school teacher, and furthering her education with a master’s degree in Spanish at Fresno State,” said Dr. Maria Dolores Morillo.

“Juggling work, school, marriage life, experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and commuting two hours to attend classes while also maintaining a 4.0 GPA has been a challenge. However, in a few months, I’ll be the first one in my family to graduate with a master’s degree, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself,” said Cortez.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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