Focus on Faculty: Sister Margit Nagy, CDP, PhD

As a history professor, Sister Margit Nagy, CDP, PhD, must transport students back in time, even to the most ancient of civilizations. Sister Nagy's teaching methods, however, focus more on the future than the past, and this forward-thinking approach helps keep history fresh and relevant in her students' minds.

Sister Nagy meets with a student in her officeTEACHING TAILORED TO THE STUDENTS
Sister Nagy serves as head of the combined History/Mexican American Studies/Political Science department and has taught at OLLU since 1979.

As her students have evolved over the years, so has Sister Nagy's
approach to teaching.

“I never teach a course the same way,” she says. “I am shaped by the students that I teach. As I get to know them and their interests, I rethink and sometimes restructure how I do things.”

As a result, Sister Nagy seeks out new perspectives through which students can learn history. One example is an upper-level course titled, "U.S. History Through Women's Eyes," which examines the significant changes in status for modern-day women.


Academic/Career Highlights:
Entered the Congregation at 13

Earned BA, MA and PhD

Earned three Fulbright grants

Co-director, Center for Women in Church and Society

Director, Kliesen International Center

2009 Gloyna Award for Technological Innovation in Teaching and Learning
To keep up with increasingly tech-savvy students, Sister Nagy has thoughtfully embraced instructional forms of technology. She makes frequent use of OLLU's Teaching Learning Technology Center, which helps faculty integrate instructional technology into online and classroom courses to enhance the learning experience.

“I think it’s helpful for students to see that history is connected to the 21st century,” Sister Nagy said. “If you make effective use of technology, our boundaries are not limited by physical resources or dollars.”

In 2009, Sister Nagy was recognized for her adoption of technology with the Gloyna Award for Technological Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Sister Nagy awards Joseph De Leon as outstanding history studentBeyond the classroom, Sister Nagy will soon further enhance the learning experience for her students with the inclusion of a service-learning component. During the summer of 2010, Sister Nagy participated in an intensive, week-long training program on service-learning pedagogy. This spring, she will integrate service-learning in the introductory course, "U.S. History: From 1865 to the Present."

“I want students to see how societal and reform issues they study in class, like equal access to education, play out in 2011,” she said.

Sister Nagy's own journey to OLLU and to the United States is a personal encounter with the ways history impacts people's lives, often forcing them from homelands and into new, foreign cultures.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Sister Nagy fled the country at age two with her
Sister Nagy with 2009 graduate parents and siblings, lived in German refugee camps until she was six, then moved to the United States with her family as a World War II displaced person. She learned English from the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence (CDP) at St. Mary’s School in downtown San Antonio and entered the Congregation at 13. She earned three college degrees, became a student of Asian history, visited Japan 13 times and co-founded the Center for Women in Church and Society at Our Lady of the Lake University.

As a child refugee of WWII, Sister Nagy never thought she would earn a PhD (Asian History, University of Washington), obtain Fulbright research grants to study in Japan, or help found a Center for Women in Church and Society. Because of her experiences, Sister Nagy knows her students can also go beyond their own expectations.

“People who are younger than me – many, Hispanic first-generation college students – will have a chance to contribute their unique talents to our globally interconnected world," she says. "Trust in Providence and the willingness to take risks is part of what keeps me going."

Sister Nagy's wealth of life experience, her willingness to embrace the future and honor the past, and a tireless dedication to each of her students makes her a treasured resource at OLLU.

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