A University of New Mexico alum, along with two of her colleagues, has been awarded a substantial grant to train teachers to support English language learners.

An assistant professor at the University of Akron, Valerie Sartor’s career has been a full one, from her defending her dissertation in 2014 before accepting a Fulbright Fellowship as a Global TEFL scholar in Russia, to taking the position as assistant professor and Teach English Around the World specialist in the fall of 2016.

Although her career has taken her to places beyond New Mexico, Sartor still recalls notable experiences she had as a student at UNM, like working under her professor Dr. Blum Martinez, who was her mentor and served as her dissertation chair, she said.

Martinez’ teaching and mentoring helped shape Sartor’s career and transition from student to professor by guiding her and directing her as a scholar, she said.

“She is an outstanding scholar and mentor. She guided me as I studied at UNM, and her work in bilingual education and as an advocate for ELL has caused me to succeed as well,” Sartor said.

Sartor was 50 years old when she began taking courses as a doctoral student at UNM, she said.

“Professors are students who are paid to think,” Sartor said regarding her experience going from a student to a professor. Sartor’s advice to UNM students who are eager and yet nervous on how to apply their education to their careers is straightforward — “get a good mentor, and stay focused,” she said.

Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com, culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter