Northeast State professor Francis Canedo selected as Maxine Smith Fellow

Francis Canedo, assistant professor of Spanish at Northeast State, has been selected as a 2015 Maxine Smith Fellow by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). She joins 13 other faculty and staff members from TBR institutions in this year’s class.

“It was a very nice surprise to receive the fellowship,” said Canedo. “I’m a lifelong learner; I really enjoy being a student and love to learn.”

The prestigious program, which runs from February through September, is designed to provide professional, leadership, and career development opportunities for underrepresented minorities among TBR employees. Fellows observe and participate in system-wide meetings, projects, and workshops.

Each Maxine Smith Fellow is assigned to a senior-level administrative mentor at the TBR system office, a TBR institution, or the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The fellow and mentor communicate on a regular basis about program activities and matters that cultivate a learning experience.

Canedo is pursuing an Ed.D., doctoral degree in Leadership and Policy Analysis at East Tennessee State University. She will begin working on her dissertation this fall. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics and master’s degree in Business Administration from the Private University of Bolivia.

Family brought her to Tennessee. Her background in economics made Canedo a top prospect for the business world. However, jobs were few and far between during the nation’s rocky economic times of the mid-2000s. Looking for an opportunity she met with faculty members in the Foreign Languages department at ETSU about translating opportunities. The department gave her a job as an adjunct instructor, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I loved it,” Canedo said. “It completely changed what I was planning to do.”

Canedo joined Northeast State in 2008. She is now assistant professor and sitting president of the College’s Faculty Senate. Because language defined culture experience, she explained teaching Spanish language included sharing world views and how language shaped a culture’s reality.

(From left) Northeast State vice president Paul Montgomery, dean of Humanities William Wilson, Francis Canedo, and President Janice Gilliam.
(From left) Northeast State vice president of Access & Development Paul Montgomery, dean of Humanities William Wilson, Francis Canedo, and President Janice Gilliam.

“I enjoy teaching the cultural part of language to share my experiences as a Bolivian who immigrated to the United States,” she said. “We use a lot of idioms that are peculiar to every language, so the cultural understanding of what they mean is very important. Language gives me the opportunity to share my world with the students.”

The Maxine Smith Fellowship Program requires each fellow to complete a project – usually a research paper or report – that examines a higher education topic. Canedo and her mentor will meet monthly and work to decide on a meaningful research topic for her project.

Canedo is the third Northeast State faculty member named a Smith Fellow. Linda Calvert, current executive director of Grant Development, was a 2011 Fellow and Dayna Smithers, associate professor of Mathematics, was selected as a Smith fellow in 2014.

The program honors Dr. Maxine Smith, a noted civil rights activist and education advocate from Memphis who served as a TBR regent for 12 years.

“This is such a great opportunity,” Canedo said. “I’m very excited to expand my cultural horizons and get to network with a lot of people.”

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