March is an important month for women. The month of March is national Women’s History Month. During this month people celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history. March 8, in specific, is National Women’s Day.
Henderson State University has many events to celebrate Women’s History Month. Students had the opportunity to nominate women of Henderson State University that have had an impact on their lives and education. The Student Engagement Center and Huie Library gathered the nominees and created a panel of six women.
The 2020 Visionary Women of Henderson State University were presented to the students at the university. Dr. Margarita Peraza-Rugeley was one of the women nominated. Dr. Peraza-Rugeley is Assistant Professor of Spanish, she also teaches lower and upper division classes in Spanish and literature at Henderson State University. Peraza-Rugeley was born in the capital city in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. She came here when her husband and she got married but she had visited the United States with her family as a tourist several times before. She has two older siblings back in Mexico. I got to interview Dr. Peraza and ask her about her life and how Women’s History has impacted her. She earned her education at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán for her bachelors’ degree, Universidad de Guanajuato for her first MA, and the University of Oklahoma for her second MA and her Ph.D. When asked what led her to the profession of teaching she stated, “Life. I have degrees in three different fields: dentistry, library sciences, and Spanish literature. Life has presented me the opportunities to shift fields, and I have enjoyed all I have done so far.”
Peraza started by telling me about her family, “My late father was a physician for the Mexican public health system, and my mother was a housewife. They were a very loving couple that believed in the benefits of education. Both were tireless readers and encouraged us to read and study. I was lucky to grow up in an educated middle-class family. The main lessons they gave us were to believe in the power of love and to understand the importance of committing to whatever you do in life.” Peraza then went on to state her mother as her strongest impact in life, “My mother. She was a housewife her entire life, but she was probably the most intelligent woman I have ever met in my life (inside and outside academia). As I mentioned before, she read endlessly, was humble, always happy, and had extraordinary faith in God.”
Peraza was nominated by one of her students, Hailey Gorecke, for The Women of HSU. Gorecke nominated Peraza because “Dr. Peraza was very deserving of this award. I took her classes for Spanish 2 and 3&4. She is the best professor I have ever had. She was always excited to teach and really cared about her students learning. She actually inspired me to complete a minor in Spanish.” Peraza felt very honored to be nominated by Gorecke.
Peraza highly values the importance of women empowerment and Women’s History Month. She tries to incorporate women’s history into her teachings. “I have done different things, during women’s history month and during other times. For example, I have organized with my students an exhibit about extraordinary women around the globe that the Huie Library hosted, and this coming fall, I’m planning to teach a class using twentieth and twenty-first-century female poetry from Latin America and South Korea since both share contemporary postcolonial topics in common.” Lastly, Peraza stated what women empowerment means to her, “It means to build a stronger self-esteem, so we truly believe that we can blossom in any environment since we are capable of it. To actively prepare ourselves in order to participate positively in our society. Finally, to sincerely care for other women.”