Alumna Receives Teacher of the Year Award From National Association

woman with dark hair

Alumna Julia Domínguez, who earned her M.A. in Hispanic Studies from MSU in 2000, received this year’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award College/University Level from the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). 

An exemplary scholar-teacher, Domínguez is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. 

“I have dedicated my life to educating and preparing globally informed citizens who are engaged with world cultures,” Domínguez said. “I want my students to become excellent communicators in a second language as well as bicultural through the study of the Spanish-speaking world.”

Julia Domínguez

Therefore, it stands to reason that while I am humbled and so appreciative of this recognition and honor, I could not have done it without such wonderful students. They deserve this recognition as much as I do, and I am forever indebted to them for their steadfast support just as I am also grateful to the AATSP for bestowing this honor upon me.”

I have dedicated my life to educating and preparing globally informed citizens who are engaged with world cultures. I want my students to become excellent communicators in a second language as well as bicultural through the study of the Spanish-speaking world.

In the recommendation letters written by her students, one of the phrases that was consistently used to describe Domínguez was that she goes “above and beyond” with a commitment to world language education that is transformative. Students described her as a teacher who knows how to reach her students, to cheer for them, engage them, and encourage them to see themselves as successful in and out of the classroom.

One student described how taking a class with Domínguez is a process of “learning with” as opposed to “learning from” an instructor given the inviting environment, space for critical inquiry, and Dominguez’s caring, genuine, and energetic demeanor. Another student wrote that “students who struggle in other classes shine in hers.” 

Ten of Domínguez’s most recent courses earned a perfect score on student evaluations and can be considered a model for language instruction. A specialist in Early Modern Spain, her senior seminar on Cervantes is one of her department’s most sought-after courses. 

woman with dark hair speaking to a class
Dr. Julia Domínguez

“Making early modern Spanish literature engaging and interesting to 21st century students can be extremely challenging, yet her students still love reading Cervantes,” one colleague stated. 

Domínguez also engages her students from both sides of the Atlantic, as demonstrated by her transatlantic course “Don Quixote in Latin America and Latin America in Don Quixote.”

However, Domínguez doesn’t just teach Spanish literature, she also has developed and regularly teaches courses in other areas including applied linguistics, dialectology, and culture(s). 

Domínguez is a tireless advocate for her students and she encourages and inspires them to become intercultural global citizens through coursework, study abroad opportunities, and international internships.

Woman with dark hair posing with a poster titled "Cervantes in Perspective"
Julia Domíguez with a poster of the book cover, “Cervantes in Perspective,” a collection of essays she edited. 

She has directed a six-week study abroad program in Valencia, Spain, for 13 years and a semester-long program in Cáceres, Spain, for seven years. Both successful programs provide opportunities for international internships and Domínguez has successfully supervised more than 40 of these internships abroad, ranging in fields from engineering, to business, to the health sciences. 

Domínguez is the editor of a collection of essays, titled Cervantes in Perspective (Iberoamericana Vervuert, 2013) and the co-editor of Hispanic Studies in Honor of Robert L. Fiore (Juan de la Cuesta, 2009). She currently is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Cervantes and Memory in Early Modern Spain.

“MSU was the first step in my academic career as a scholar and a teacher. My first students were Spartans and their enthusiasm and motivation encouraged me to continue pursuing my career. MSU will always be an important part of my life since it was my first stop in the United States 22 years ago and it is also where I met my husband.”

Julia Domínguez

After earning her M.A. from Michigan State University, Domínguez went on to receive her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Arizona in 2004. She also has dual bachelor’s degrees in Hispanic Philology & Linguistics and English Philology & Linguistics from the Universidad de Extremadura.

“I have extraordinary memories of Michigan State University, especially the long walks around its beautiful campus,” Domínguez said. “MSU was the first step in my academic career as a scholar and a teacher. My first students were Spartans and their enthusiasm and motivation encouraged me to continue pursuing my career. 

“MSU will always be an important part of my life since it was my first stop in the United States 22 years ago and it is also where I met my husband, who is a native of the state of Michigan, an MSU alum, and a fervent Spartan fan!”