Dr. Gracia Roldán Remembered as Impassioned and Spirited Educator  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. Photo Courtesy by Dr. Ana Torres.

 By: Madison Watkins, A&E Editor

arts.inkwell@gmail.com

This year, the Spanish Film Club was renamed to the Gracia Roldán Spanish Film Club in honor of the Spanish professor who died last year. Dr. Grant Gearhart and Professor Encarnación Cruz proposed to rename the film club after her because of “her efforts to build Spanish-language films on our campus,” according to Dr. Ana Torres.

“Dr. Gearhart and Cruz’s proposal was fully supported by the Foreign Language faculty members and the Latino Heritage Celebration Committee approved the motion,” Dr. Torres added.

We reached out to some of Dr. Roldán’s colleagues, Dr. Torres and Dr. William Deaver to find out more about her.

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Dr. Gracia Roldán. Photo Courtesy by Dr. Ana Torres

Dr. Roldán was from Osuna, a town in Andalucía, Spain. She graduated with a law degree and an MBA from the University of Seville and obtained her PhD in Spanish language and literature from the University of Cincinnati.  

Dr. Roldán was passionate about her language and culture; consequently she wanted to spread that enthusiasm in the US.  

Dr. Roldán taught all levels of Spanish, but her specialty was the history of immigration in Spain and the last few years she was at Armstrong, she developed an interest in films that dealt with the latest wave of immigrants in Spain from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa.

She created new classes that used film and literature to present a more varied perspective of Spanish culture that also included the contributions of Gypsies.

Gypsies have long lived as ostracized members of Spanish society that have suffered discrimination and persecution. Dr. Roldán saw it to address past slights on this group.

Dr. Roldán also was a great recruiter for the study abroad program that she designed in Seville, Spain.  She routinely had the highest enrollments out of all the study abroad programs and tailored the programs to student interests and needs with different lengths of stay that also incorporated cultural visits to cities such as Granada, Córdoba, Madrid, etc.

She also did a magnificent job directing the language resource center by ordering the latest technologies for language learning.  In addition, she trained tutors so that they would be more efficiently prepared to help students.

Students really liked her passion, positive attitude, fairness, knowledge, and willingness to go beyond the classroom in order to ensure effective learning.   

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Dr. Gracia Roldán. Photo Courtesy by Dr. Ana Torres

Dr. Roldán was a great colleague who actively participated in the faculty Senate.  

More than that, she was a dear friend who was wise and trustworthy.

Dr. Deaver said, “Dr. Roldán was full of energy and loved to host gatherings. She celebrated difference and could passionately discuss many topics without letting that passion lead to rancor. She firmly believed that disagreement did not lead to dislike; consequently, she never belittle anyone or held a grudge because she considered everyone had the right to defend their own opinions.”  

Dr. Roldán courageously fought a very aggressive cancer the last year of her life. She kept her battle private to many to the end-it was her wish.  She is survived by her husband Terry, two children: Belén and Sean. Also, her parents and brother in Seville, Spain survive her.