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April 26, 2007

Cervantes to be featured speaker at Cowley's commencement exercises


Cervantes to be featured speaker at Cowley's commencement exercisesKnown as a dedicated instructor, who has received the NISOD Master Teacher Award and Cowley College’s Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence and Student Learning Award, Marlys Cervantes will be the featured speaker at Cowley College’s 84th commencement exercises held at 10:30 a.m. May 5 inside W.S. Scott Auditorium.

Cervantes, who is an instructor in Cowley’s Humanities Department, has been listed in the Who's Who Among American College instructors, and was named the Tiger Booster of the Year in 2004. She has also been a presenter at NISOD, NADE and Pop Culture conferences.

At Cowley, she teaches Literature, Creative Writing, and  Composition I and II. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1997 and earned her master’s degree in English from the school in 2000.

Prior to working at Cowley she commuted from her home in Ponca City, Okla. to Stillwater, Okla. to serve as an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma State University.

She recalls interviewing for her current job at Cowley in 2000.

“I called my husband after the interview and said if this isn’t the place for me I have no idea what god has in mind,” Cervantes said. “That’s how right it felt.”

She originally thought about gaining employment as a high school teacher, but eventually decided to teach at the college level. Thus meaning she would go straight from the undergraduate program to the master’s program at OSU.

The hard work has paid off as Cervantes loves the opportunity to teach at Cowley.

“The moment I stepped into the classroom with my first freshman Composition class I loved it and knew it was worth the work to get that degree,” Cervantes said. “The challenges change all the time, it is extremely exciting to go with the flow of those changes.”

Not expecting to be asked to be this year’s commencement speaker, Cervantes is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I am extremely honored, it is an important role,” Cervantes said. “I feel so much passion for the students and all they accomplish and all they will go on to accomplish when they leave here. I am very honored to speak to the students at commencement.”

Cervantes gets the most satisfaction out of knowing she has helped make an impact on a student’s life.
“A lot of times I will get an e-mail or a letter talking about how I impacted a student’s life and to have that kind of feedback while doing a job you enjoy, I can’t imagine a greater moment,” Cervantes said.

When she is not busy teaching, Cervantes enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and supporting her students in their extracurricular and athletic activities. She and her family are also active in numerous community organizations in Ponca City, Okla., such as RAIN team, crisis intervention programs, Ponca Playhouse, various arts organizations, and the First United Methodist Church.

Through her church, Cervantes began working with the Regional Aids Interfaith Network, which works with Aids victims.

“It is in my nature to reach out to individuals that are socially isolated for whatever reason,” Cervantes said. “There is a need for a greater understanding, so having that is a nice way to reach out.”

She also is involved in acting and is part of ReAct (Regional Actors), which consists of teaching and training using theatre and drama.

“It goes back to the challenge of things and the excitement and adrenaline that comes with it,” Cervantes said. “I also get to meet a lot of new people that I would never get to meet.”

Cervantes and her husband, Jose, live in Ponca City, Okla. She has a daughter, Alana, 25, that graduated from Cowley in 2005. She also has three stepsons, Jacob 27, Javier 28, and Joe 31.

The couple also have 12 grandchildren.