Andréa Ferreira is SPS’s newest faculty hire. She joins our department as a lecturer in Portuguese, in charge of teaching language and culture classes and developing courses for our soon-to-be-created Certificate in Portuguese for the Professions.
Andréa was born to a close-knit family in Petrópolis, a historic mountain city close to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Andréa recalls Petrópolis as “a small town, where you could walk anywhere, where it was safe, and where everybody knew your name.” In 1996, her family moved to Coral Springs, Florida, where Andréa attended high school. After considering several US Ivy League institutions for college, she chose to continue her education at the University of Florida. “I was really happy in Gainesville, and felt at home for the first time since leaving Brazil,” she reminisces.
“My plan is to continue to care for and learn from students.”
By the end of her third semester at UF, the US government had discarded many applications for permanent residency as result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Although allowed to remain in the US, applicants had to restart the process from zero, so Andréa’s mother decided to move back to Brazil in 2002. Andréa followed, after graduating magna cum laude from UF in 2004.
Shortly afterward, Andréa moved back to Florida to pursue a Master’s degree in nineteenth-century Brazilian literature under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Ginway.
As a graduate assistant teaching Portuguese, Andréa’s enthusiasm and dedication won her, among other honors, the prestigious Calvin A. VanderWerf Award in 2009 for outstanding teaching. After finishing her MA thesis on Brazilian Literature, she was accepted as a PhD candidate in UF’s Department of History. Andréa says: “After five years in the History Department, I knew my mission was to teach about Brazil, its language, history, peoples, and cultures.”
Her doctoral dissertation, under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Needell, is entitled “Discovering Gilberto Freyre: Race, Identity and (Trans) National Narratives in Twentieth-Century Brazil.” Andréa’s interest in Gilberto Freyre, who played a key national role in changing the image of Brazil abroad, inventing and propagating the notion of a racially harmonious nation, stems from her own experience as an international student. “My own MA thesis and PhD research have given me the tools to teach both literature and history courses, in either Portuguese or English. I hope to teach more interdisciplinary Portuguese classes in the context of Brazilian regional cultures and social dynamics, literature and history, and race and national identity.”