Campus News


Dr. Sonia Zuniga-Lomeli Delivers SBCC's 36th Annual Faculty Lecture

April 16, 2015

Dr. Sonia Zúñiga-Lomelí, Santa Barbara City College Professor of Spanish, was selected by her peers to present the college’s 36th Annual Faculty Lecture on Wednesday, April 15. Delivering the lecture is considered the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member each year.   The April 15 presentation, titled “From Rabbits to Spanglish: Journey of a Language”, took place at the SBCC Garvin Theatre on West Campus at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception.  

Lecture Topic
Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí discussed language as a unique tool that allows people to achieve efficient communication and has helped to establish greater common ground for understanding and interpreting ideas, emotions and thoughts. “As civilizations have evolved, so have their linguistic habitats, thus creating a variegated map of language pockets,” she said.  “Spanish is a fascinating language with a long illustrious history with its birth and development taking place in the Iberian Peninsula.”

As Spanish speakers have come to the United States, the coexistence of English and Spanish over the centuries has created generations of bilingual and bicultural Americans, especially what has been termed Generation Ñ, with an ever-evolving unique blend of Spanish and English called Spanglish. With the presence of some 55 million Spanish speakers, and bilingualism becoming more prevalent in the United States, what was once Spanish in the United States is now Spanish of the United States.  “At a time when some languages are literally dying, it is remarkable to witness the development of Spanglish, a unique linguistic phenomenon of communication with a distinctive blend of lexicon and syntax, cultures and worldviews,” Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí said.

About the Lecturer
Dr.Sonia Zúñiga-Lomelí was born in the seaport city of La Ceiba, Honduras. In 1967, when she was 15 years old, she migrated to the Unites States and settled in Brooklyn, N.Y. She later attended Queens College of the City University of New York and received a B.A. degree in Applied Linguistics in 1976.  She then went to the University of New Mexico and started her M.A. degree work in Spanish Linguistics but later changed to Hispanic Literature when she took a Spanish literature class, taught by the great Chicano writer Dr. Sabine Ulibarrí.

She and her husband Francisco Lomelí moved to Santa Barbara in 1978 when he started a joint appointment in the Spanish and Portuguese and the Chicana/o Studies Departments at UCSB.

At UCSB, Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí studied Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Literatures, became actively involved in the graduate student group on campus and was instrumental in the creation of Tinta, a literary magazine by and for graduate students. She earned her Ph.D. from UCSB in 2003.

Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí has been a full-time faculty member in the SBCC School of Modern Languages since 1990.  A strong supporter of students experiencing language and culture through Study Abroad, she has participated as director of programs to Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Spain. She also helped design and implement the first American Sign Language and Japanese intensive summer programs to give students an immersion experience without leaving Santa Barbara.

To meet the needs of students’ different learning styles, Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí developed self-paced language courses and has also been involved in the development of language placement tests and the testing of language proficiency and the development and revision of the Spanish for Heritage Speakers curriculum. She also worked to establish the SBCC chapter of the Spanish Honor Society Sigma Delta Mu and has been actively involved in SBCC college governance serving in numerous leadership capacities.

Dr. Zúñiga-Lomelí and her husband are the parents of three children: Natasha, Carlos and Yazmín.

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