Meet the Faculty: Dr. Angela Felix
Amor por la lengua (Love of Language)
Angela Felix’s professional life could have gone down many paths. The theater beckoned, as did banking, and later, a passion for tennis. But in the end, a love of language won out. Thirty years later, Felix is prospering as the faculty chair for languages at Rio Salado College.
“I was actually a theater major for one brief semester as an undergrad,” Felix said. “As a grad student, I was hired as a TA to teach 100- and 200-level Spanish classes. Early on during that experience, I realized that I had found my calling.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a certificate in Latin American studies from Arizona State University (ASU), Felix’s career began internationally after she got a job in La Paz, Bolivia.
“I had to pick up the language pretty quickly,” Felix said. “The experience was challenging but exhilarating. When I returned stateside, I knew I wanted to further my Spanish skills. I enrolled in a graduate program, and the rest is history.”
Felix’s education continued with a master’s degree in Spanish literature from ASU, and a Ph.D. in adult education from Capella University. A stint in banking gave her the opportunity to use her skills to communicate with Spanish-speaking customers.
“Before I got the full-time faculty position at Rio, I started as a part-time bank teller and worked my way up to branch manager,” Felix said.
She then put all her skills and knowledge to use as an adjunct instructor in Spanish, and later faculty chair for languages at Rio Salado.
One of Felix’s favorite college moments is being recognized for her work on assessment of student learning initiatives.
“I was proud to represent the college along with President Kate Smith when we travelled to Denver (pre-COVID) to accept an award for our assessment work,” Felix said. “That was an awesome recognition of Rio's ongoing mission to ‘Empower learners everywhere with innovative education.’”
The award centered on a dashboard tool Rio developed, the Dynamic Assessment Data Display, that helps faculty assess student learning and identify achievement gaps for every student.
In addition to having two books and a number of articles published, Felix’s professional accolades include receiving Outstanding Adjunct Faculty awards in 1997 and 2001, the Arizona Language Association Teacher of the Year award in 2011, and the League of Innovation Award of Excellence in 2017. She served two terms as Rio's Faculty Senate President, from 2011-13 and again from 2017-19.
So where does the tennis come into play?
“I picked up tennis late in life, for fun,” Felix said. “It was never a career path, but I am an avid player. If love of the game equaled talent, I would be on the pro circuit!”
For those interested in learning new languages, Felix, a native of Washington D.C., said a wealth of career opportunities awaits.
“There are so many options,” Felix said. “Rio offers classes in American Sign Language, Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Employees with skills in a second (or third!) language are valued in almost every industry.”
She encourages online language learners to stay motivated and believe in yourself.
“Don't let anyone tell you that you can't,” Felix said. “You deserve to take time for yourself each and every day to work toward your goal. ¡Sí se puede! You can do it!”
By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer