Legacy Spotlight: Leona Martin

Summer Fall 2023 Issue

Image of Leona Martin, professor emerita of Spanish. Leona Martin, professor emerita of SpanishIn July, Leona Martin, professor emerita of Spanish, established The Leona Martin Endowment for Languages, Literatures & Cultures. The fund honors Nonie’s parents, and is a celebration of her passion for language, culture and teaching.

Nonie served Susquehanna with distinction for 27 years before retiring in 2014. During her tenure, she developed the Latino Initiative, an extensive program in which SU students engaged in service-learning courses with migrant children, organized an oral history project with regional Latino high school students, and interacted with rural and urban Hispanic communities.

A highlight of the Initiative was the annual Latino Symposium, which enlivened Susquehanna with academic presentations, art exhibits, films, special meals and a gala. This event, now in its 26th year, has continued to grow and evolve as the Annual Latinx Symposium.

“I have the highest regard for the individuals who are leading the Initiative today, and so much respect for the students who are involved,” Nonie says. “That led me to think about giving some of my family’s legacy to help continue its good work.

“With support from student leaders, the Initiative has evolved in ways that reflect current realities and major challenges for the future,” she adds. “I know that these dedicated young people will succeed as they strive to create tomorrow’s world.”

Nonie’s generous philanthropy will also ensure the continued success of the Initiative and its goals. The income generated by her endowed fund will support initiatives and activities that enhance students’ experiences in the Languages, Literatures and Cultures department.

Preference will be given to the continuation and expansion of the Latinx Initiative, and support student participation in the university’s Global Opportunities programs. Other funding opportunities may include student-focused departmental programs and innovative ventures, at the discretion of the department chair.

Ultimately, Nonie hopes that these opportunities will help attract more students from diverse backgrounds – particularly Latinx students – and support them throughout their time at Susquehanna.

“This is important not only for the university, but also for our nation and our democracy,” Nonie says. “I feel so fortunate that I can do this.”

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