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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Spanish Professor Cynthia Tompkins knew there was something special about Rachel Hill when Hill brought her newborn son, just 4 days old, to class so that she could present the summary of her final paper.
Hill earned an A+ in that class, Latin American Film, and has gone on to receive several other honors, such as receiving the Quino Martinez Scholarship and being named a CLAS Leader. Most recently, she was named a Dean’s Medalist for Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures, an award Tompkins nominated her for.
“Rachel is a born leader who is adamant about social justice,” Tompkins wrote in her nomination. “She has the stamina and the talent to do well in the academic career of her choice.”
After that class, Hill consistently brought her infant son with her to campus, something she regards as her best memory of her time at ASU and something she said she was lucky to be able to do. Hill is a nontraditional student and mother of three children: a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old, and that baby Sun Devil who accompanied her to class, who is now 2.
Hill said receiving the Dean’s Medal “felt pretty surreal.”
“I have my school life, but I’m also a mom and a wife,” Hill said. “My kids are not impressed by my academic achievements yet, so it was validating to know that the support system I have and everyone who has helped me along the way saw my success, and that was represented in getting the medal.”
Hill is enrolled in the 4+1 program for Spanish, focusing on literature and culture. She will graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree and complete her master’s degree next spring. After that she hopes to do local or international outreach with underserved populations. A dream would be to move to Argentina and raise her children there to give them a unique experience, but big plans like that will depend on her husband, who is currently attending community college and plans to transfer to ASU.
Hill’s sister recently graduated from ASU, and her mother and grandfather taught here, so the foundation is in place for a Sun Devil family. She said it’s “highly possible” her own kids could attend ASU someday, though that’s many years in the future still.
“I’m looking forward to finishing my master’s degree and I’m so grateful to have been a student at ASU,” Hill said. “ASU has been in my life even before I was born, so it was just really special to finish my education there.”