Interview with Maria Luisa Zamudio-Mainou, Class of 2004 and 2016



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Dr. Maria Luisa Zamudio-Mainou, Class of 2004 and 2016. The interview was conducted by Milner Library student employee Rexton Jones on July 10, 2023.

In the interview Zamudio-Mainou, formerly the executive director of the National Center for Urban Education at ISU, reflects on her educational and professional journey. Born and raised in Tampico, Mexico, she pursued an undergraduate education in her hometown before transitioning to a career in banking. In 2000, she moved to Bloomington-Normal to study English at ISU, eventually shifting into the Foreign Languages department’s literature and culture graduate program. After a year at ISU, a job opened up in the College of Education’s bilingual education program and Zamudio-Mainou found herself working with some 250 Spanish-speaking teachers from across Latin America. This sparked an interest in education, eventually leading her to pursue a PhD in higher education administration at the university.

In addition to the difficulty of learning English, Zamudio-Mainou also had to contend with cultural differences in the U.S. and the isolation of often being the only Latina in the room. She found a mentor in her graduate advisor and the director of the College of Education’s bilingual program, George Torres, with whom she would later collaborate on future grant projects.

Zamudio-Mainou has held multiple positions during her decades-long career at ISU, including working on a grant transitioning paraprofessionals into becoming certified teachers. She also engaged in teaching multicultural education courses and coordinating study abroad programs. Zamudio-Mainou's dual roles provided her with a unique perspective, allowing her to work closely with underrepresented students while navigating administrative responsibilities. Reflecting on her accomplishments, she finds pride in witnessing her students' success and graduation.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Zamudio-Mainou’s background: 00:00-02:35
  • Undergraduate education in Tampico, Mexico: 02:35-03:45
  • Graduate school at ISU; working in College of Education bilingual program: 03:45-07:13
  • Challenges of immigrating to Bloomington-Normal: 07:13-10:20; 12:18-14:12
  • Influential faculty: 10:20-12:18
  • Career trajectory at ISU: 14:12-20:13
  • Comparing administrative and teaching responsibilities: 20:13-24:03
  • Pride in seeing students succeed: 24:03-27:38
  • Thoughts on Latino/a representation at ISU: 27:38-31:06
  • Impact of Mexican heritage on student interactions; conclusion: 31:06-34:07

Interview with Maria Luisa Zamudio-Mainou, Class of 2004 and 2016