CEBS Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. Marguerita DeSander
- Thursday, October 8th, 2020
When WKU’s Dr. Marguerita DeSander reflects on her Latin heritage, it stirs feelings of nostalgia as she recounts time spent with her Argentinian great-grandmother.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, DeSander notes her great-grandparents emigrated to the area in 1917 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The family sailed into the New York Harbor and were processed at Ellis Island. Here they established a home and joined the community of immigrants that traveled to the area for the automotive industry. “It makes me somewhat sad because I was not raised with a lot of knowledge or understanding of my Argentine heritage,” DeSander said. “She [great-grandmother] never returned to Argentina or saw her family again.”
Although her great- grandmother never returned to her home country, The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences’ department head and interim director recalls fond memories of conversations they shared about her time in Buenos Aires. “She loved watching ‘westerns’ – particularly The Rifleman and Gun Smoke – because they reminded her of where and how she lived in Argentina. She would speak of the ‘gauchos’ or cowboys from her youth. I think those shows transported her back to her home and evoked great memories for her,” DeSander said, “now, every time I watch an old TV western, I think of my great-grandmother and wonder what her life was like in Argentina.”
DeSander also connects with her Latin culture through cooking, a love she shared with her great grandmother. “I seek out Argentine cuisine when I travel and have tried to make dishes that are inspired by my Argentine roots. I have recreated some recipes I have had in restaurants, including Chimichurri sauce,” DeSander said, also noting this dish is her family’s favorite. Through perusing different dishes, DeSander can’t help but remember her great-grand mother’s culinary skill. “My great-grandmother was an excellent cook – the BEST – so I remember some of her wonderful dishes – many of which were inspired by her Latin roots,” DeSander said.
DeSander mentions how proud she is to be of Latin descent. “I was blessed to have had my great-grandmother in my life until I was twenty five years old,” DeSander said as she reflects on the time she spent learning about her family’s cultural influence. “I hope to travel one day to Argentina to experience the people, culture and maybe even connect with family,” DeSander said.
DeSander serves as department head for Educational Administration, Leadership and Research and Interim Director of the School for Professional Studies where she helps staff and faculty engage in cycles of improvement impacting curriculum, programs, processes and procedures to improve the student experience. She is in her seventh year at WKU.