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VC Spanish instructor named professor emeritus

May 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.

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Not even retirement from Victoria College could keep Raphael Venegas from his love of teaching.

Venegas, who retired as a full-time Spanish instructor in 2008 but returned in 2011 as an adjunct professor, was honored as this year's Victoria College Professor Emeritus during the spring 2012 commencement ceremony.

"It's such a great honor," Venegas said. "I'll continue teaching as long as they'll have me. Teaching is my passion."

To qualify as professor emeritus, the instructor must have served as a full-time faculty member at VC for a minimum of 15 years, and either be retired or planning to retire by the end of the fiscal year. The professor must also have made significant contributions to VC's educational mission and programs.

Professor emeriti are given access to college facilities and resources and are invited to participate in commencement ceremonies and other college special events. Additionally, professor emeriti have the option to teach courses part time at the college as adjunct instructors.

"Raphael Venegas is indicative of the quality of faculty that we have at Victoria College and is well-deserving of this honor," college Vice President of Instruction Patricia Vandervoort said.

Venegas was nominated by English professor Gary Hall, who said Venegas brought a lot of excitement into the Spanish program.

"He's one of the most dedicated professors I've known," Hall said. "He really helped build the Spanish department. We lost our Spanish teacher about a year ago, and I was glad he stepped in to keep the program going."

Venegas has been an educator for the past 43 years, 15 of which were spent at Victoria College. For 12 years, he took students from his classes to Cuernavaca, Mexico for several days to study Spanish and live with Mexican families.

Venegas also established an annual Day of the Dead exhibit at Victoria Mall. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated allowing family members to remember loved ones who have passed on.

"My students would build beautiful memorials like they do in Mexico," he said. "Many people would come. It was a way of teaching the students a little bit more about the language but also about the culture."

After being retired for three years, VC was in need of a Spanish instructor and contacted Venegas and asked if he could return as an adjunct professor. He is happy to be back.

"I'm teaching Spanish again, and I'm having the time of my life." Venegas said. "Every morning, I get so excited to get up and teach. That's what keeps me going. I love my students. I think of them as if they were my children."

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