Editors’ note: In August 2014 SMU will debut the Residential Commons on-campus living model. Eleven Faculty-in-Residence were selected to live among students. This is part three of 11 FiR profiles.
Professor Miroslava Detcheva is no stranger to new experiences and different environments. She was born in Bulgaria, and has lived in six countries since. She speaks five languages. And next fall, she’ll move into McElvaney Hall with 260 college students.
Detcheva is one of 10 faculty that was selected as a Faculty-in-Residence for the fall 2014 rollout of the Residential Commons on-campus living model at SMU. Her decision to apply for the program stemmed from her experience as a law student studying at Oxford University, the origin of the Residential Commons model.
“When I was a student I realized how some of the professors were able to go beyond the classroom teaching,” Detcheva said. “I feel that those people that take that extra step and that try to connect with students outside the classroom are the ones that make a difference in the life of students.”
After her undergraduate studies, Detcheva completed two Masters programs at Baylor University, then completed law school at SMU’s Dedman School of Law. She has been a Spanish professor on the Hilltop since 2007.
“I found it difficult to be able to cover what I’m supposed to cover in my classes and also be able to go one step beyond,” Detcheva said. “I think that’s where the Residential Commons will give me the opportunity to be a mentor and share my experiences and go beyond my subject.”
While Detcheva only teaches Spanish classes, she speaks five languages. She left her home in Bulgaria after high school and lived in Mexico, Germany, England, Spain and the U.S.
“There’s that international aspect that’s really important in my life,” Detcheva said. “That really matches the goals SMU has: to put emphasis on global education and that we take pride that ‘World Leaders are Shaped Here.’”
Detcheva believes the Residential Commons will create pride, a sense of belonging and will help students become more involved on campus. She said the different activities organized by each Commons, as well as between the 11 Commons will create learning in an untraditional way.
“Education is a lot more than just going to your five classes and learning a subject and being tested,” Detcheva said. “While you’re at the university that’s time [that] can be a life-changing experience. You can find new passion in life. Or it can be the first time you’re able to go abroad and learn about a new culture. Learning should take place beyond the classroom and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”