Professor Ryan Prendergast Wins Professor of the Year in Humanities
May 7, 2019
Presentation Speech by Jonathan Bearden (Spanish, Microbiology 2020)
To begin, I’d like to say that Dr. Prendergast is the most enthusiastic lecturer I’ve had the chance to take a class from here at UR. His passion in the field of Spanish, and the unique classes that he offers are second to none. These courses range from Medieval Spanish literature to debates in societal issues we face today. I’ll be the first to say, it takes a special person to get a group of young adults excited to read and study 16th century Spanish literature. You could compare it to reading Shakespeare, but in another language.
I nominated Professor Prendergast for SA Professor of the year because I recognize that he truly cares about his students as individuals, as well as the process of learning. His assignments are always meaningful, and I personally have improved so much as a writer in both Spanish and English.
He’s not afraid to teach controversial topics like his “Censorship” course where, especially today, the topic is very relevant. And were it not for Professor Prendergast, I would never have gotten around to reading Don Quijote in its 800 page glory, even as a Spanish major.
Dr. Prendergast also brings his students snacks and candy on occasions, never forgetting to celebrate life’s small events, or just because. He invites other professors from different departments within the humanities to his classes as guests, and he always makes it a point to include visits to different resources offered by the university in his classes, including the rare books archive and the digital media studies lab.
He has also encouraged me to apply to be a Fulbright Scholar, and without this, I would not have had the confidence to begin the application process.
Over the course of the academic year, Professor Prendergast has taught his students many life lessons, whether he knows it or not. The four most important lessons for me are: 1) to always ask questions; 2) to always question authority; 3) that tilting at windmills is a good thing; and, 4) that in your journey through life, you need to find yourself a Sancho Panza.
Dr. Ryan Prendergast is a perfect example of a professor that makes the University of Rochester such a unique and enriching place to learn.