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Robin Bower teaches a Spanish class.

Learning a new language is more than a requirement to graduate; it gives students access to another world, said Dr. Robin Bower, associate professor of Spanish.

Bower used to dream of becoming a ballerina. “The reason why I never pursued dancing was because one day I realized I couldn’t dance,” she said. But teaching was always something she had in the back of her mind.

“I’ve always thought about teaching, but once I got to college, I knew I wanted to teach at a university. That’s when I started to get excited about teaching,” Bower said.

Bower grew up in Philadelphia and spent a good portion of her life in New York, but she now calls Pittsburgh home.

She attended West Chester University for her undergraduate work, where she double-majored in English and comparative literature. She went to graduate school at Columbia University.

So what brought this Philly native to Penn State Beaver?

“A job. That’s why anyone goes anywhere,” she said.

The reason Bower stays is a different story.

“I stay for the students. I love the students,” Bower said. “Students at elite schools like Columbia don’t need me. They already have everything given to them. You can really change more lives at Penn State University than you can at places like Duke or Columbia.”

What made Bower want to teach?

“Teaching has always been something I wanted to do. It’s something I am very passionate about. Higher education changed my life,” she said. “Specifically, a professor I had when I was working for my undergrad was very passionate about teaching. I realized that you have to give back what you’ve been given.”

Bower has received a Beaver campus teaching award and was invited to Duke University to act as a visiting associate professor during a sabbatical. She’s also been invited to present her research at Princeton University.

When a student enrolls for one of Bower’s classes, she expects the student to “work hard and have fun.”

“I really expect students to show up prepared and to enjoy the period of time we’re working together," she said.

Editors Note: In 2012 Dr. Bower was one of only two University-wide faculty members to receive Penn State's Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.


Ph.D. in Medieval Literature
Columbia ­University

Master of Philosophy in Medieval and Golden Age
Columbia ­University

Master of Arts in Latin American Literature
Columbia ­University

Bachelor of Arts in English and Comparative Literature
West Chester University