Dr. María Claudia André leaves her students with more than a grade: she gives them a broader mind, something she considers one of the most important aspects of a college education.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. André brings the “global learning and cultural component” to Hope, a place she finds rewarding for students and mentors alike.
“We establish a close relationship,” she notes. “We can chat about a whole variety of issues from the personal to the existential, the mundane to the intellectual, so that we as professors serve as role models, and I’m glad to be a part of that.”
“Student interaction makes me a better person; I learn from my students and I grow as an individual. Some of them are very challenging: They ask very intelligent questions, and they keep us on our toes,” she says.
Dr. André came to the United States in 1986 as an interpreter and translator in New York City. After working in fashion design for several years, she began her Ph.D. in Latin American literature. In 1994, while working on her dissertation, she began her career at Hope.
“Even though I had other job opportunities, I thought that this was the place for me, first because I liked the sense of community I found here,” she says. “I liked the students, I loved the area and its proximity to Chicago, and I thought this would be a very good place to teach.”
She values the opportunity to play a part in building understanding, helping students to look beyond the surface and see the world, particularly Latin America, more fully.
“People in general have a very narrow vision or are unaware of the cultural richness and diversity of Latin America,” she points out. “In my classes, students explore the relationship between Latin America and the United States and in addition to gaining an appreciation towards this region; they reevaluate their own personal opinions.”
Dr. André appreciates the respectful open-mindedness of Hope students and is impressed by the college’s grounding in the historic Christian faith, as well as enriching opportunities like off-campus study. The mix, she feels serves students well, preparing them to live, lead and serve in the diverse and interconnected world.
“Our job as faculty is to broaden students’ horizon, promoting Christian values of understanding and empathy, teach them to place themselves in others’ shoes, be compassionate to issues they otherwise would not have considered,” she says. “Get them to see the world from a different perspective, that’s what this is all about.”