Teresa A. Henderson Vazquez, M.A.

Senior Teaching Specialist, CLI

B.A., Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Iowa

M.A., Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Iowa

Teaching at UMR

The primary purpose of education is to learn how to be a life-long learner with the ability to synthesize diverse content, ideas, experiences and skills. Ideally, education should be a deeply personal journey toward self-understanding and self-improvement as well as understanding of others and ability to build relationships across difference. As an instructor and life-long learner, I strive to bring student focus to pride in their learning process rather than on grades. I hope to nurture a sense of personal agency as well as an appreciation of collaborative processes. Teaching and learning is, for me, an act of social justice, providing the structure and support for students to overcome the systemic barriers that have been placed in their way, imagine a more equitable and just future for themselves and others, achieve their own goals and respect the goals of others and engage in the democratic exchange of ideas. Representation matters, and I want my students to see connections to themselves and the people they care about throughout my course content. By incorporating diverse examples of human life across difference in course materials, students see that their own differences will be valued and respected. Mutual respect between students and between student and teacher, is necessary for a productive educational experience. Teaching and learning are dynamic and collaborative activities. How we teach must be flexible, evidence-based, innovative and informed by and responsive to student feedback, as well as model respectful collaborative interactions. Students will forget many details of what they learned in their courses, but what they take away should be confidence in their own ability to adapt, learn and advocate for the future they wish to see.


I am interested in how universal design, anti-racist practices and community engagement experiences can impact student learning, sense of belonging on campus and empathy toward self and others.

What advice do you have for first year students?

Allow yourself to veer off your path. This is a time of change, exploration and questioning. You will find yourself swimming in ambiguity, but this is an opportunity to learn and grow. Be kind to yourself and others as you journey through college. Embrace your inevitable existential crises; they are necessary for your future sense of professional and personal fulfillment. Always know that help is available and there is strength in asking for it when you need it.


    • 2023 Good Neighbor Award
    • Hiawatha Homes, Inc. Civic Engagement Leadership Award
    • "The Village Community Garden UMR Collaborative Leadership Team"
    • UMN 2020 Civic Engagement Steward Award
    • "Team award", Minnesota Campus Compact 2014
    • Helen Lees Award for Excellence in Teaching, Indiana University 2011