April 11, 2018
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Carmela Ferradáns has been named the 2019 recipient of the Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence at Illinois Wesleyan University.
The Kemp Award winner, selected by the faculty Promotion and Tenure Committee and announced Wednesday at the annual Honors Convocation, is recognized for bringing spirit, passion and scholarship to the art of teaching.
“I am very surprised, and of course, honored,” Ferradáns said following Wednesday’s Honors Convocation. “I nominated an amazing colleague, and I am just surprised that I was the one recognized. But, I am very honored.”
A Professor of Hispanic Studies, Ferradáns teaches all levels of Spanish language, literature and cultural history of Spain, as well as writing intensive courses for the Writing Program. As chair of Illinois Wesleyan's Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, she has ventured into the field of multimodal pedagogies, especially those dealing with writing and speaking across the curriculum.
“Every nominator shared that (Ferradáns) cares deeply about students,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Mark Brodl while introducing Ferradáns as the 2019 Kemp Award recipient. “She takes students beyond what they may have thought they could accomplish. She connects students. She connects colleagues. She connects students and colleagues. She is the model of a teacher-scholar.”
Ferradáns’ scholarship includes critical studies on the poetry of Ana Rossetti, which are well known – particularly her intertextual reading of the Calvin Klein advertising campaign of the 1980s. She is the editor and translator of Incessant Beauty: A Bilingual Anthology which offers a wide range of Rossetti's poetry in dual language, Spanish/English. Ferradáns is also a poet in her own right. In 2006 she published a poetry chapbook, My Right Breast and Other Poems, with eight poems engaging directly with the aftermath of breast cancer and radiation.
Ferradáns joined the Illinois Wesleyan faculty in 1992 and earned a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of California, Irvine in 1993. Ferradáns completed a master’s degree in Spanish at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1988 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and educational sciences at the University of Santiago de Compestela in 1984.
Areas of Ferradáns’ research interests include: Contemporary Spanish literature and cultural studies; The Spanish avant-garde; The legacy of the Spanish Civil War; Digital humanities; Translation theory; Writing and Speaking pedagogy; Multimodal curriculum development.
Before Ferradáns was announced as the 2019 Kemp Award recipient, Kemp Foundation representative Chris Kemp made a presentation to 2018 award-winner Victoria Noltkamper Folse ’86 who serves as a professor and as the Caroline F. Rupert Endowed Chair of Nursing. The Kemp Family Foundation began funding the award during the 2009-10 academic year.
Ferradáns’ said she felt honored to receive the Kemp Award following Folse’s “wonderful, very powerful speech.” In her presentation, titled “In Pursuit of Excellence: From Patient Centered to Student Centered” Folse shared her experience as a first-generation college student raised by a single mother who was reliant on welfare, food stamps and a medical card.
“I now reflect on how fortunate I was to have known poverty, as my accomplishments were in spite of – and perhaps because of – my unyielding desire to climb the socioeconomic ladder,” Folse said. “My focus on having a better life – which for me meant without government assistance – and helping people around me improve their lives – was my catalyst for excellence.”
As a child, Folse said she centered her attention on academic performance and her ability to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. Her soft skills – such as communicating and thinking critically – were cultivated by life experiences, including a desire to be defined by more than being the only student eligible for free lunch in her class.
“Perhaps most important in my journey was my mastery of connecting with people and using communication to understand myself and the people around me,” Folse said. “I committed early in life to serving others, and I realized this was possible for me by earning good grades to assure scholarships to attend college and then deciding to become a professional nurse, and later, an educator of nurses.”
Folse attended Illinois Wesleyan University where she found that excellence in the School of Nursing was not optional.
“We were keenly aware – and often reminded – that we had been admitted to the ‘Harvard of the Midwest,’” Folse said. “As a nursing major, we were charged with the responsibility to demonstrate that a professional school not only belonged on a liberal arts campus, but that its existence made us a stronger campus community.”
Within three years of graduating from Illinois Wesleyan, and while working full-time as a registered nurse, Folse completed her first graduate degree. Her interest in understanding why a patient was experiencing debilitating symptoms, and what she could do about it, turned into her master’s thesis, and later, her doctoral dissertation.
“I recognized the impact simply talking – really talking – to another person could have on that person’s well-being,” Folse said. “I used not only the knowledge and skills I had developed in a small, private liberal arts university, but relied heavily on my soft skills.”
These soft skills, Folse said, are critically important for current college students to hone. Transferable skills such as communication, problem solving and critical thinking, allow students to adapt knowledge they are gaining at Illinois Wesleyan into real world settings and prepare them for the complexities of the global society, according to Folse.
“As we strive for excellence in the School of Nursing, we place tremendous emphasis on critical thinking and are confident that an education grounded in the liberal arts serves as the foundation for clinical reasoning and clinical judgment skills,” Folse said.
Folse encouraged those in attendance at Wednesday’s Honors Convocation to consider how to direct their own journey of excellence. She suggested “being authentic in your pursuits and surrounding yourself with people who are equally committed and who share your values.”
“Striving for excellence assures you take personal responsibility for decisions and actions, and requires that you lead by example which will elevate the most vulnerable around you,” Folse concluded.
An annual celebration of excellence, the Honors Convocation is dedicated to the Class of 2018 and to students who have earned scholastic and activity honors.
At the ceremony, colleagues also paid tribute to retiring members of the faculty: Associate Professor of English Mary Ann Bushman; Associate Professor of Economics Robert Leekley; Chair and Associate Professor of French James Matthews; Professor of Art Sherri McElroy; Professor of Hispanic Studies Mauricio Parra; Professor of Art Kevin Strandberg; Professor of English Dan Terkla; Director of Collections and Professor, Ames Library, Marcia Thomas.
By John Twork