The University of New Mexico is celebrating the life and achievements of UNM professor Veronka John-Steiner.

John-Steiner was a professor of Linguistics and Educational Psychology at UNM for over 40 years and passed away on Dec. 6, 2017.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, she was a Holocaust survivor, and was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II — she came to the United States after the war as a refugee, according to her obituary in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

John-Steiner was an incredible woman and contributed to UNM in numerous ways, said Holbrook Mahn, a UNM professor of Educational Linguistics and program coordinator of English as a Second Language.

“She was a brilliant scholar and a prolific writer, but the thing I think (was) outstanding about her was the support she gave to young scholars, especially women,” Mahn said. “She gave the kind of support that students needed to succeed.”

John-Steiner came to UNM in 1974, Mahn said. She was a renowned Lev Vygotsky scholar and the only female speaker at the centennial celebration of the life and work of Vygotsky, the famed Soviet psychologist. John-Steiner was interested in internal processing and how speech regulates actions and behaviors, Mahn said.

John-Steiner always advocated for women and other minority groups, Mahn said.

John-Steiner found teaching extremely rewarding, especially mentoring students at the University and supporting women in their dreams and academic pursuits, according to her obituary.

Mahn said John-Steiner, an annual research lecturer, was a kind, caring person,who was supportive of both her colleagues and students.

She was recognized for both her research and creativity. John-Steiner was also the author of multiple books, including “Notebooks of the Mind,” which won awards.

The University of New Mexico will be hosting an event in memory of John-Steiner. The event will celebrate her life and accomplishments, Mahn said.

The celebration of her life will be at the Rotunda this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., according to an article in the UNM Newsroom. Several speakers will honor her and discuss various aspects of her life, Mahn said. Following the speakers, there will be an open mic session for friends and colleagues to share stories about John-Steiner.

Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at, or on Twitter @megan_holmen.