Dec 072006
 
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

Margarita Lenk says diversity makes the world a better place.

Lenk, an associate business professor, brings something fresh to CSU with her teaching, and students are tuning in.

In honor of her service and dedication to students, Lenk has been presented with several awards: the Outstanding Educator Award, and the Service Award for Enhancing Minorities in the accounting profession, both from the American Accounting Association, and the Jack Stewart Student Project Award.

Lenk’s awards come at a time when CSU President Larry Penley is pushing more than ever for diversity, retention and service-learning programs.

But Lenk says the recognition belongs not to her, but to the students.

“It takes great students to make a professor look good,” Lenk said. “In my opinion, the students are the best resources CSU has.”

As a national service-learning scholar, Lenk engages her students with the community to work on real needs as part of class work. Students often work with non-profit organizations, creating spreadsheets and helping out wherever they can.

“It is a wonderful proposition,” Lenk said. “The community is bettered and students learn.”

Lenk wants to spread these ideas not only at CSU but all around the country, visiting 80 different universities to present the program.

“She has done a wonderful job of getting students to do high-level community projects,” said Clayton Hurd, assistant director of service learning for the office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement.

“She has a unique talent for getting people excited and getting people to get their students out in the community,” Hurd said.

The awards, Lenk says, inspire her to try to change the world.

“Every time I win an award, I feel it increases my obligation to the world,” she said. “We have an obligation and when given an award, it makes that obligation bigger.”

Lenk, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, received her secondary education in the United States at the University of Central Florida, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina.

Lenk came to CSU in 1991, bringing with her a commitment to diversity awareness and learning through civic engagement.

The biggest testament to Lenk’s commitment comes from her students.

Juan Orozco, a sophomore business finance major, says he constantly sees Lenk promote diversity inside and outside the classroom.

“She is awesome,” he said. “She is really passionate about giving everyone an opportunity and making the world a better place.”

Ishaka Adamu, a junior accounting major and fellow pupil of Lenk’s, says service learning isn’t easy, but the experience is worth the effort.

“I talk to (Lenk) and she coaches me on how to carry myself while being an effective person,” he said. “She has encouraged me a lot.”

Lenk feels that she has close relationships with her students because she cares about them.

“Caring is not just personal care,” she said. “It is where they are, where they have been and preparing material to where students are. I look (at) teaching not as a four-month period, but as life-long mentoring.”

Staff writer Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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