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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Cruz-Saco among Conn College faculty awardees

    Maria Cruz-Saco

    New London — Maria Cruz-Saco, a Connecticut College-endowed professor of economics, was honored by the college this week for her research regarding Latin American economies.

    Cruz-Saco founded the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut in 2000, alongside her late husband, Alejandro Melendez-Cooper.

    The organization has awarded more than 300 scholarships to New London students since 2000 and provides grants and community service programs to New London’s Hispanic residents. Cruz-Saco also sits on The Day’s board of directors.

    Cruz-Saco says her greatest inspiration comes from her family. She has three adult sons, who she said provide immense joy to her life.

    “My husband continues to be a source of inspiration with the visions that he had,” she said. “My boys are my source of energy. I find them awesome.”

    Originally from Peru, Cruz-Saco earned her master's and Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh. She joined Conn College in 1990 and values the institution's support for research in Latin America, a less explored area in international economics.

    “I work in an area of the world that’s been losing relevance. It’s wonderful that my work has been recognized, despite the fact it’s not the latest scientific discovery,” she said.

    Cruz-Saco teaches one of the college’s most popular majors. In one semester, she can have up to 80 students in courses ranging from introductory macroeconomics to senior seminars.

    Additionally, she works with students in the community. In July, Bria, a summer program Cruz-Saco developed, will be hosting local Latino high school students. She strongly believes her proximity to students allows her to keep new ideas and perspectives flowing.

    “I love to engage with youth,” she said.

    Cruz-Saco is one of four award winners at the college. The others include Mónika López-Anuarbe, an associate professor of economics who won an award for excellence in teaching; Derek Turner, a professor of philosophy who received the Excellence in Leadership award; and Rashelle Litchmore, an assistant professor of human development, recognized for fostering student achievement.

    t.wright@theday.com

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