UW-P Experience Allows Galvan to Put Family First
Cynthia Galvan's graduation day was atypical compared to that of most other University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduates.
But Galvan, who graduated from UW-Parkside in December 1998 with a major in Spanish literature, recalls the experience as one that was indicative of her time here. With three children under the age of three by the time her graduation rolled around, Galvan hadn't exactly had the time to focus on the logistics of graduation day.
So her academic adviser, Carmen Ireland, made sure Galvan's graduation day would be as memorable as it was for other UW-Parkside graduates.
"On graduation day, I was running late," Galvan recalls. "I had missed the rehearsal previous to the ceremony. But it was as if Carmen knew. I thought I wasn't going to make it. When I arrived to the auditorium, all the graduates were marching in. Carmen was there to greet me.
"I had my baby in the portable car seat. I handed her my baby, and she handed me a piece of paper with my name on it. I am sure my husband met with her later. He was carrying our other two children. I made it just in time to march in with everyone else. This day, I was certainly grateful for having Carmen as my support system on campus."
Galvan also recalls Cynthia Jensen, Galvan's mentor assigned to her through the OMSA office, giving her a basket full of gifts when her third child was born in August 1998.
"To me, that was an unforgettable gesture," Galvan said. "It meant a great deal to me. I knew the staff at UW-Parkside really cared about its students."
And now, as a full-time faculty member in the English Department at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Galvan aims to show the same care for her students. In addition to teaching reading and English courses for MATC's underprepared learner initiative, Galvan also teaches first-semester English both face-to-face and online and teaches Spanish for Child Care in the Foreign Language Department.
It's very easy to see how, as an educator, Galvan can relate to students of all backgrounds. Her own education was an eye-opening experience that created more options for her than she ever could've imagined.
Galvan came from a very traditional home, saying her father didn't believe in young women leaving the home until they were married.
"Leaving to go away to college was not an option," Galvan said. "That is why I married at the age of 20."
Galvan first attended MATC and graduated with her associate's degree in arts. With several options to pursue her bachelor's degree, Galvan chose UW-Parkside because it offered her an affordable education and the option of being close to home so she didn't have a long commute from her young children. Basically, UW-Parkside offered exactly what Galvan needed to fit her lifestyle.
"Coming from a small suburban town in the Chicago-land area, I found that UW-Parkside had that small-town feel," she said. "It had small classes, and I felt welcomed when I visited. I had two small children at the time, and UW-Parkside had a child-care center available to students."
What UW-Parkside also did for Galvan was open her eyes to the freedom that college students have, a freedom Galvan never experienced coming from such a traditional home.
"Visiting the dorms opened my eyes to the freedoms students had at the college," Galvan recalls. "For the first time, I was able to see that students could live without their parents' supervision and go to bed when they wanted to, study when they wanted to and go to eat when they wanted to.
"By the age of 25, I had three children, and I was graduating from UW-Parkside. I had no idea that one could have the freedom of an adult and still enjoy the benefits of being at home. It was at UW-Parkside that I first understood the sisterhood of sororities. I never joined due to my family obligations, but I made many lifelong friendships."
Galvan said Professor Maria Leavitt, her Spanish professor, inspired her the most during her time at UW-Parkside.
"She was dedicated 100 percent to her students," Galvan said. "I attribute her great teaching ability and modeling her teaching practices to my success in teaching Spanish at MATC."
It was Galvan's bilingual abilities that allowed her to first find employment at MATC in April 1998 as an educational assistant for the Bilingual Program. In 1999, shortly after graduating from UW-Parkside, Galvan was hired as a part-time Spanish instructor at MATC.
She continued her education and prepared herself for her current full-time position by earning a master of science degree in education from UW-Platteville in 2001 and later attended Viterbo University to complete her reading specialist certification.
Currently, Galvan is completing a master of arts degree in English with a writing emphasis from Mount Mary College. All told, under the Wisconsin Technical College System, Galvan holds certifications to teach Spanish/foreign language, communications, reading, English, English as a second language, career education and college success strategies. Furthermore, Galvan has used her bilingual abilities to contribute to Spanglish magazine in Milwaukee, Aqui Milwaukee magazine and other publications.
In 2006, Galvan was recognized by her peers in receiving the Hispanic Excellence in Education Award by the Racine Hispanic Business Professionals Association of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
So Galvan continues to do an impressive amount of professional juggling, but it's probably no surprise given the responsibilities she juggled during her time at UW-Parkside and on that memorable graduation day in December 1998. Since that day, Galvan has added two children to her family of four daughters and a son, Carolina (13), Minerva (12), Christina (10), Citlalli (8) and Cristian (4).
"Many people ask me, 'What's my driving force?'" Galvan said. "I always respond that everything I do is to provide my children with my very best. They are my driving force. I attribute my success in my academic and my professional career to my children.
"I want to be their example. For my daughters, it is my hope that they become strong, educated women who are productive citizens in the community. For my son, I have the same expectations."