In Spring 2018, CLST student Mariana Noé received Columbia’s prestigious Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student. The Presidential Teaching Awards are conferred based on the students' nominations, both for faculty and graduate student instructors. In the case of graduate students, the Presidential Teaching Awards honor student teachers "for the influence they have on the development of their students and their part in maintaining the university's longstanding reputation for educational excellence.
In 2018, Columbia received over 400 nominations for the award, and Mariana Beatriz Noé, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in our Classical Studies program was one of the winners. Mariana’s students spoke with enthusiasm about the impact that she had on their educational paths and her passion for the ancient world and philosophy as a whole. They cited the very high standards to which she holds herself and praised how Plato’s “pleasures of reason” become a lived experience in her classroom. In her teaching statement Mariana addressed the challenges and benefits of being in front of a class as a non-native English speaker:
I was concerned about the way in which American primetime television and advertising portray Latin American immigrants, and about how that could affect the way in which my students perceived me. However, instead of letting those fears get in between me and my students, I brought them to class and made them a shared experience. After welcoming everyone to class and distributing copies of the syllabus, I proceeded to introduce myself. “My name is Mariana Beatriz Noé. I come from Argentina. I know I have a strong British accent, so please let me know if you don’t understand what I say.” Everyone laughed, perhaps timidly. And in that moment all my worries disappeared. And once I got over my own fears, I discovered the fears of my students. […] I teach in two Departments, and this has afforded me the opportunity to develop the skill sets needed for two very different learning environments. One of my classrooms is a small group of students grappling with Latin grammar, and one of my classrooms is a section of a large philosophy class—in some ways, the two couldn’t be more different. But many of the things that matter to me as a teacher remain the same. […] At the end of the semester, I like to take the students to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to bring to life additional dimensions of the ancient world, thereby making the experience of studying ancient languages and philosophy even richer. But in a way that is also a Columbia experience, since New York City becomes our campus on that day. A city “foreign to everyone” becomes our own learning playground.