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FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: SPS welcomes our new faculty

This year, SPS is thrilled to welcome three new faculty members to our department, and we are excited to introduce you to them here.

Antonio Sajid López, Ph.D.

Antonio Sajid was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He is an actor, an author, and a professor of Spanish and cultural studies. Antonio received his B.S. in Secondary Education in Spanish and French from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in 2003, and his M. A. in Hispanic Studies from the same institution in 2010. Later that year, he joined the doctoral program in Spanish and Latin American literature at UF, and graduated in 2015 with his Ph.D. in Spanish, and with a certificate in Latin American Studies.

Antonio has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2009 he received a Highly Qualified Spanish Teacher Award from Puerto Rico Department of Education, and in 2013 he was the recipient of the university-wide Graduate Teaching Award. Currently, Antonio teaches courses that emphasize social justice through experiential-learning, literature, culture, cinema, and close readings of primary texts. His research and teaching integrate multiculturalism and community service, while his areas of academic expertise include Spanish American theater, cultural studies, service-learning, and creative writing.

Diego Pascual y Cabo, Ph.D.

Diego, a native of Spain, joins SPS as an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics and as the Director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program. Before coming to the University of Florida, he worked as an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University for five years.

Diego, who is a 2013 UF Ph.D. graduate, specializes in Heritage Speaker Bilingualism. Over the past few years, his work on this topic has appeared in several scholarly journals, such as Applied Linguistics, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Heritage Language Journal, Foreign Language Annals, Hispania, and International Review of Applied Linguistics (among others). He is currently involved in several research projects that explore various aspects of Spanish as a Heritage Language, such as language acquisition and development, emotional dynamics, classroom interventions, experiential service learning, and identity negotiation.

When he is not busy teaching or researching, Diego likes working out and staying active. He also enjoys cooking, reading, and chatting with friends, but above all, he loves spending time with his wife, Laurie, and his two children, Teo and Pau.

Jennifer Pretak, Ph.D.

Jen is from Southern California, where she earned a B.A. in Spanish from the University of San Diego, a M.A. in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in Spanish literature at the University of California – Riverside.

Jen is passionate about helping students realize their full potential in any academic setting and has taught Spanish language and Hispanic literature and culture courses at various post-secondary institutions, including UC Riverside, UC San Diego, Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University — and now at the University of Florida. Jen’s research specialization is in Modern Peninsular Literature and Culture, focusing on neoliberalism and postmodern aesthetics of contemporary Spanish transmedia literature. Her current project is titled “The Nocilla Generation and the De-politicization of the Contemporary Postmodern Narrative of Spain”.

As the Administrative Coordinator of the Lower Division Language Program, Jen is happy to support the instructors of the LDLP while working with students of all kinds of academic needs, so they can be successful and encouraged to advance their studies in Spanish and Portuguese at UF.