Campus News - April 23, 2001

Language, culture, travel Johnson's passions

by Claudio Serrano

Rosario Johnson, Department Administrator, Spanish and PortugueseLanguages are her passion. She speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French and Farsi (Persian) fluently, so it’s no surprise Rosario Johnson is the Administrator of the Spanish and Portuguese department.

“I love this department,” she says. “I like to help students make their dreams come true.” And she has. Johnson brings more than 20 years of Public Administration experience to UNM.

Johnson is responsible for recruiting teaching assistants from the United States, Brazil, Mexico and other countries in South America and the Caribbean. This semester alone, 41 teaching assistants and 21 part-time instructors were staffed for more than 100 courses offered by the department.

Before getting a scholarship to study School Administration in England, Johnson got a degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Chile.

Her passion for traveling took her to many cities in the U.S. as well as “fascinating countries” like Israel and Iran, where she served as a high school principal for a number of years. “I love Iran’s culture,” she says. “I cried when the revolution forced me to leave”.

Johnson said she was attracted to New Mexico by its culture and languages, which she finds similar to a small Chilean town where she lived years ago. Although she has traveled extensively, this is the place she plans to grow roots. “Albuquerque is home,” she says. “The people here are just incredible.”

When time allows, and when she is not behind her desk with piles of paperwork, she can be found roller blading around campus or reading, one of her favorite hobbies.

Johnson, or Rosario, as she likes to be called, is busy round the clock.

She even makes her own clothes. In the process, she has learned to match ethnic colors and fabrics with long, sophisticated skirts that give her a unique style.

“Sometimes I buy a fabric and keep it for years before I do anything with it,” she jokes.

Rosario’s interests are as many as her travels, her soft voice and diplomatic ways show that she speaks yet another language: her own.

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