Thursday, July 17
Two years ago today my mentor and dear friend passed away from breast cancer. Dr. Rosario Caminero was my graduate school Spanish professor whom I had met two years before starting grad school when I worked in the Foreign Languages Department as an assistant. I got to know her very well working there and by the time I got my B.A. and signed up for her grad courses, I already had a tremendous respect for her. Her knowledge of Spanish linguistics and composition was vast and her classes were always upbeat and interesting. I looked forward to those intensive graduate classes-five days a week- and even the compositions, because she was the professor. I learned more from her in two years than I had in the four previous years- she was that incredible.
Cuban-born and bred, she had the most wonderful accent in English and in Spanish. Dr. Rosie, as I called her because I respected her too much to call her by her first name as she asked, dressed with panache. She always wore a brightly colored dress or skirt to teach or a beautiful pantsuit, and never without stylish shoes. She walked with a clip and always seemed to be in motion, talking with her hands- her Spanish and English coming out rapid fire. She smelled of Giorgio perfume, a scent I liked so much I bought it myself but it didn't smell the same on me. Simply put, she was my guru, my mentor, my inspiration to become a teacher, for when I first met her I was not a teaching major- I was set to graduate with a B.A. in Spanish which did not qualify me to teach- I needed a B.S.Ed.
I began the graduate program immediately after I graduated so I could become certified to teach. Still unsure of my decision after many mornings full of pedagogy classes, my future as a Spanish teacher eventually fell into place in the afternoons in her classroom. Her love for teaching, her patience and her passion were all qualities I wanted to emulate. She made teaching look fun, enjoyable and dare I saw... rewarding! I wanted my students to enjoy my classes as much as I enjoyed hers. She counseled me on boyfriend troubles, family situations and taught me what it took to be a great teacher. She was my surrogate mom.
Rosie lost her battle with breast cancer on July 17, 2006. The only time I have felt as sad as I did that day was when my grandparents passed away. I am grateful for having had her in my life to inspire me, to guide me and to be there for me to try to emulate. Her stylish pumps are way too big to fill but she is always present for me to look to as an example. And I will never forget the advice she gave me on my wedding day, which I am so happy was caught on videotape: "Claudia, acuérdate quién es la jefa." ("Claudia, remember who is the boss"- she used the feminine form to mean me.)
Rest In Peace, Dr. Rosie