Lucia Mock Muñoz de Luna, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the School of Education, has won a Student Undergraduate Teaching Award. She is one of only 11 teaching assistants from across the University to win one of the awards.
The awards were announced April 27, among the annual Chancellor’s Awards recognition event.
Mock Muñoz de Luna was one of 21 winners of Student Undergraduate Teaching Awards, which went to teaching assistants, selected faculty and one staff member who teach or work with undergraduate students.
The awards were established by student referendum in 1989, funded by a special student fee, to recognize outstanding instruction. Winners of the awards were selected by a committee of students.
Mock Muñoz de Luna taught this year in EDUC 533: Social Justice in Education and EDUC 507: Art, Education, and Social Change, both of which were led by School of Education faculty member Alison LaGarry-Cahoon.
Mock Muñoz de Luna was praised by student nominators.
“She is great at giving feedback to students and actively working with them so that they can become the best versions of themselves as possible,” said one nominator.
Another said: “I have been a student at UNC for almost eight full semesters, and I have never seen a TA be able to establish a sense of community within a class as well as Lucia has, not to mention that both of these semesters have been online classes.”
Mock Muñoz de Luna is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. program’s Cultural Studies and Literacies strand. She also serves as associate editor of The High School Journal.
Work rooted in love and caring
Mock Muñoz de Luna said she was drawn to the School of Education because of its stated mission of equity and social justice. She has been active within the School and at the University as a supporter of efforts to identify and address inequities and social justice issues.
“Ideally, I would like to be a part of classroom communities that are rooted in love and caring, where love is understood as a political act,” Mock Muñoz de Luna said. “Dr. LaGarry-Cahoon and I have worked hard to make sure our students have felt supported and cared for this year, prioritizing their health and well-being over any arbitrary measure of academic success.
“I also love when students feel emboldened to ask questions of themselves, of us, and the curriculum — understanding that we can’t just take “social justice” or education as a given good, but rather as ideas and practices that we need to critically analyze and understand.”
In her dissertation work, Mock Muñoz de Luna said she is studying ways in which Western ideas and modes of thought, including racist and colonialist ones, have been imposed throughout the world and how some people and communities have worked to resist and refuse them. Among her experiences, she has worked with Syrian and Palestinian refugee children in a school in Beirut, Lebanon.
“My dissertation is an epistolary project that explores my own relationship to learning, and considers ways to be in good relation to the practices of knowledge and relationality that might help us consider liberation and justice outside of whiteness,” she said.
Mock Muñoz de Luna said she hoped to provide something for students that she wishes she had when she was growing up.
“Young people have often been at the center of meaningful social change and upheaval in this country,” she said. “My work has always been rooted in supporting those movements.
“I also didn’t like school and always felt on the outside of a system that was often more harmful than good. I came back to education and schools because, selfishly, I wanted to be the adult that I wish I had had as a teenager.”