Photo of Dr. Mary Lourdes Silva

Mary Lourdes Silva

Associate Professor and Writing First Year Composition Director, Writing
School: School of Humanities and Sciences
Specialty: Writing Studies and Multimodal Composition

My earliest memories of acquiring an education was on my Azorean parents' dairy farm in California where I learned to save my fingers while milking calves, locate the lone bull in a cow pen, and snap haywire with one lemon squeeze and violent twist. Years later, my education extended to the classrooms of California State University, Fresno. As an English major, I pursued my interests in poetry, which really emerged from my interests in Pink Floyd. In January 2000, I started the M.F.A. program in poetry and later switched to nonfiction prose after the lines in my poems started metamorphosizing into sentences and paragraphs.  

While I pursued my M.F.A., I became equally intrigued by composition theory and pedagogy. I loved language and the socio-cognitive processes of writing, so I wanted my students to share this experience. In 2003, I graduated with my M.F.A. and a certificate in Advanced Study of Composition. From 2003 to 2006, I worked with emergent writers from divergent socio-cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in the Fresno area. My students challenged me in amazing ways to co-construct a curricular design that allowed students to think critically, develop their voice, and write with purpose. However, I did not settle there. I questioned my pedagogical methods, student outcomes, and theoretical implications. What I did not realize at the time was that I was thinking like a researcher without knowing exactly how one goes about doing actual research. I wanted to find answers to my clumsy inquiries and experiments. In fall 2006, I sat in my first Ph.D. classroom at University of California, Santa Barbara. I was the first in my immediate and extended family, including our local Portuguese community, to pursue a Ph.D. In June 2011, I walked right out with my degree in Education with an emphasis in Language, Literacy, and Compositions Studies. In the last eleven years, I have been known as the "technology professor," because of my use of digital learning tools and technologies in the classroom. My goal is to transform what it means to learn to write in the 21st century and design learning environments that allow students to participate and collectively construct new knowledge to solve or re-imagine contemporary problems.  

When I'm not writing or teaching, I'm organizing Argentine tango events, teaching tango, and dancing. I  also love to cook, throw dinner parties, discover the best restaurants in town, and travel to find more great restaurants, hike, walk, and cycle.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.

You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, 
Love like you'll never be hurt, 
Sing like there's nobody listening, 
And live like it's heaven on earth.

William W. Purkey