I grew up in Panama City, Republic of Panama. I have dual citizenship: Panamanian-American. My birthplace prepared me for the many challenges I have been facing in life. It also set the foundation for my personal and professional development. I continued my journey in the United States, where I have had the opportunity to grow at many different levels and learn to be a good citizen of humanity. I love both nations, Panama (my homeland) and the United States (my adoptive nation).

What drew you to your academic discipline?

I studied international relations at the University of Panama, Panama City. Later on, when I moved to the United States, I fell in love with languages and literature, so I decided to pursue a career in education, centering my interest in Spanish language and literature. My area of concentration is contemporary Latin American literature and language acquisition. I like teaching Spanish language and culture. This gives me the opportunity to teach and, at the same time, serve as a bridge between two cultures. Recently, I have redirected my attention to Language for Specific Purpose (LSP) Programs. I developed and implemented, in collaboration with Carmen Ferrero, associate professor of Spanish, the first Spanish for Health Professionals and Spanish for Educators Certificate Programs at Moravian University. I see an undeniable need in the community for these programs.

Nilsa Lasso-von Lang at work in her office

You are also the assistant director of multicultural enrollment. What does that entail?

My responsibilities include the following:

  • Collaborating with the Enrollment & Marketing Department and the Center for Inclusive Excellence to create an annual strategy for multicultural recruitment and retention
  • Supporting recruitment and retention efforts for underserved groups of students
  • Partnering with the enrollment leadership team and other stakeholders to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for non-traditional students
  • And supporting the development and cultivation of relationships with potential corporate partners in order to build a broader base of support for Moravian Universitie’s mission.

Are there any specific moments from your experience with students that stand out in your mind as special?

In general, when students come to me and tell me that studying languages and learning about different cultures have expanded their reality, it is evident that as they embark in these new experiences they evolve professionally and personally. Students pursuing the Spanish for Health Professionals have told me: “Dr. Lasso, we are doing our clinicals, and a patient’s life was saved because we were able to assist as the Spanish interpreters…” and “We are able to provide better care and treatment to monolingual Hispanics and Hispanic patients with a limited English proficiency level.”

Students in the Spanish Language and Culture for Educators Graduate Program have said: “We are so glad Moravian is offering this program for teachers. This program is helping us to develop our language skills, cross-cultural competency, and confidence. Now we can better communicate with Hispanic students and their parents.” All these moments are very special to me. It’s very rewarding to know that what I am doing is not being stored in students’ short-term memories. I see how the teaching-learning process is meaningful. It’s having a positive impact on humanity.

Share something about yourself that people may not know.

I love horseback riding, and I am good at it.

What is your favorite space on campus and why?

I like Comenius Hall because it’s a monumental piece of history.

What is your favorite aspect of Moravian University?

Moravian University is the sixth oldest educational institution in the nation. It was founded on the principle that education is for all.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I like to write, travel, and learn about other cultures. I love spending time at the family farm in Penonomé, Panama. I enjoy gardening!

Name someone who inspires you and tell us why?

My oldest sister. She is an exceptional person and the most dedicated nurse I have ever known. She is the Florence Nightingale of Panama.

What is the best advice you have ever received or a quote that stays with you?

“Be kind. Kindness is teachable and learnable.”

 Share something that makes you happy.

 World peace