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Marquis Scholar Angela Guarino ’04 (Springfield, Pa.) recently collaborated with her professor on a paper to be published on contemporary Spanish writer Cristina Fernandez Cubas. She is now continuing her work by exploring how the kitchen plays into Cubas’ short stories, which will be incorporated into a second paper on the author.

Guarino, a double major in government & law and Spanish, is working as a participant in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. She is collaborating with Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures.

An award-winning teacher, Geoffrion-Vinci is the author of a book published last year on pioneering 19th-century Spanish feminist Rosalía de Castro (see related story). In addition to other publications, she has presented papers at many conferences and given two keynote addresses for Stanford University programs. A recipient of grants from Stanford, Yale, the Ford Foundation, and several other institutions, Geoffrion-Vinci has developed interactive computer programs for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Spanish courses.

“This EXCEL work continues prior research by looking at cooking and the kitchen as sites through which Cubas’ female characters gain authority over their lives,” explains Geoffrion-Vinci.

“I began by researching issues of gender, food, and cooking in Hispanic literature,” says Guarino. “It has been extremely rewarding for me to see how this project began with broad ideas presented to me at the end of my freshman year and where the research has led us, especially because the themes we have been exploring are truly groundbreaking. Now in phase two of this project, I have begun re-reading and analyzing various short stories among Cubas’ collection. Finally, Professor Geoffrion-Vinci generously enabled me to contribute to the process of writing and editing the paper.”

To complete this project, Guarino has drawn on what Geoffrion-Vinci terms “tremendous Spanish language skills” honed during a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain. The student cites the special relationship she has cultivated with Geoffrion-Vinci as one of the most rewarding parts of this project and her time at Lafayette.

“I cannot say enough about Professor Geoffrion-Vinci’s role as my faculty mentor throughout this project and my career at Lafayette,” says Guarino. “She has really encouraged me to pursue as many avenues as possible towards the enhancement of my language skills.”

“It has been a privilege to work with her and a truly rewarding experience for me,” she adds. “She has given me a great deal of freedom to explore any number of avenues that inspire me and then bring them to the table for possible inclusion in our articles. It is amazing to me that someone as accomplished as Professor Geoffrion-Vinci has offered an undergraduate like me such creative freedom and ability to influence this project.”

For Guarino, the mentoring opportunities and faculty commitment at Lafayette influenced her to attend.

“One of the main reasons I decided to come to Lafayette was the dedication of the faculty, which immediately came through to me on a campus visit and continues to strike me now in my junior year,” she says. “I truly believe that our faculty is our greatest asset. Their dedication to us often doesn’t end in the discussion of class work, and this makes Lafayette one of a select number of institutions that can boast this quality. Faculty members go above and beyond the call of duty for their students. Also, unlike most undergraduate programs, the EXCEL program is unique to our campus, affording an opportunity to conduct hands-on research and work one-on-one with a faculty member.”

Guarino, who is planning a career in government or the legal field, notes that improving her Spanish language skills “can only be an asset upon entering the workforce as we move towards globalization.”

Captain of Crew Club, Guarino is a member of Kirby Government and Law Society, College Republicans, and Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honors society.

Categorized in: Academic News