María Cristina Monsalve
María Cristina Monsalve, originally from Quito, Ecuador, is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Ms. Monsalve has two fields of interest: 20th century Latin American literature and its connections with philosophy, philology, and the history of science, and architecture and the representation of cities in contemporary Latin American fiction and cinema. She is currently working on a doctoral dissertation on the poetics of ruins and the theory of fragmentary writing—Mineralogía poética: Nuevas piedras para “La mano desasida” de Martín Adán. Reconstrucción e interpretación literaria Poetic Mineralogy: New Stones for “The Loosened Hand” by Martín Adán. Reconstruction and Literary Interpretation]. The dissertation compiles and analyzes the dispersed verses of a lengthy and generally forgotten poem written in fragments in the 1950s. Her dissertation advisor is Professor Jorge Aguilar-Mora.
Ms. Monsalve was the Spanish mentor in the Language House, an immersion program at UMD, for two years, and has been directing a study abroad program in Quito, Ecuador, during the Winter Session. She is the recipient of the School of Languages, Literature, and Culture Award for Excellence in Language Teaching (2013) and the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education "Excellence in Service" Medal for Mentoring (2014).
She graduated from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador in 2007 with a degree in Communication and Literature.
How would you describe your graduate experience at the University of Maryland?
Really inspiring! I have discovered how an idea can grow and expand without limits in a diverse community where everyone seems to be seeking intersections and different ways to approach knowledge. I started my dissertation project in literature and anticipated its relation with history and philosophy, for example, but, little by little, my project has become more interdisciplinary and now involves archaeology, architecture, and programming!
How has the Graduate School and your graduate program supported your efforts?
The Graduate School has been extremely supportive. There are many sources and opportunities available for international students and a strong commitment for providing a meaningful academic environment for all graduate students. An International Graduate Research Fellowship (IGRF) last year, for example, allowed me not only to go to Peru and conduct research for my dissertation, but also to invite a group of graduate students from Latin America for a weeklong workshop at UMD. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese has also been supportive in everything I have undertaken. I am very lucky to be in a thriving community of graduate students who are not only bright and hardworking people, but also enthusiastic, compassionate, and generous with each other.
Why did you choose the University of Maryland?
The best professor that I had in college, a renowned poet back in Ecuador, also taught at UMD at one time. Then I discovered that other well-known scholars and writers were also teaching here. The resources for research, access to libraries, and agreements with other institutions were also factors that influenced me.
Why should others choose the University of Maryland?
Maryland is a very well connected institution with a diverse and engaging community of students, faculty, and staff. There is always something new happening on campus and in nearby Washington, DC—from interdisciplinary research teams for graduate students to harvesting your own vegetables in an organic garden on campus.
Why is graduate education important?
The first time that I came to Washington, DC, I visited the Library of Congress. I was wondering whether it was the right time to continue my education, and being surrounded by such an unbelievable number of books, all free and available, made a crucial impression on me. Sooner or later, all of us face this crucial moment when we know who we are and what we can do. I am convinced that education is the only chance that we have to make a difference. Graduate education allows us to work in a wider sphere and undergo great changes that can have a positive impact on the world.
What is graduate education at UMD all about?
It is about learning as living and living as learning. Here, an individual dedicated to the preservation of the old and the creation of the new can find a place where knowledge makes us more human.