Introducing Admissions Director, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor, Peggy Manouka
The first – and perhaps most important – interface for all students applying to Webster University Athens is Dr. Peggy Manouka. With the confidence and grace of a true professional, multiple roles to fill at the Uni, and an easy smile, Peggy thoroughly embodies the Greek virtue of “philotimo” in her everyday interactions with the Webster Athens’ international student body.
Peggy has worked at Webster University since its beginning in Athens three years ago. She teaches courses of modernist, colonial, post-colonial, and minority literature, as well as literary theory, academic writing, public speaking and professional communication. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Literature and Literary Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation was based on “Eros and Thanatos in Mexican Literature.”
Undeniably one of the most critical Webster Athens team members contributing to the positive experiences of LERRN students, Peggy’s office door is always open (often even after hours, via email). Her determined ability to listen patiently, express empathy, and assist students with their academic and personal challenges are critical elements that effectively anchor the success of our sponsorship program.
For students who also happen to be refugees, navigating even the most basic aspects of life in Athens can present extraordinary challenges. Our students sometimes struggle with issues most westerners take for granted – proper housing, food security, scheduling legal or medical appointments, renewing identification documents and attending (often delayed or canceled) asylum interviews. Even obtaining and translating official copies of academic records from their war-torn countries of origin can be an insurmountable task.
Peggy says that “It’s a rewarding experience (to work with the refugee community). Most refugee students appreciate the opportunity, are warm and sweet, and show respect. I am happy to see that they have vision, and dreams for a better life in the future. I am also happy to see that whatever the obstacles and challenges, they do grow personally and academically.”
Students consistently share expressions of fondness and gratitude regarding their interactions with Peggy:
“Peggy is the sunshine of Webster Athens. The way she treats us and cares about us is more than a relationship between professor and student; it’s like a mother and her kids.” – Student from Syria and Palestine
“About professor Peggy, I have to tell you, she is a wonderful, kind woman who tries to solve the students’ problems in every way which they need. I’m very comfortable to talk with her because she always listens to me and offers positive answers to help solve my problems with kindness. She is a special Professor as well. I enjoyed all of her classes because she strives to make sure we understand the subjects.” – Student from Iran
“She’s like a mother to the students. Even when we feel a bit hopeless, she cares and encourages us. Besides the friendly relationship, I had a very good experience in the courses with her. She demonstrates (course content) in a modern and easy way.” – Student from Kurdistan, Iraq
“Mrs. Peggy is one of the best teachers we have in the university. Her famous phrase for us is “I am here in my office whenever you need something,” with a smile on her face. She is just a great person.” – Student from Morocco
While it’s unlikely that anyone would deny her mama-bear commitment and character, she is equally fierce in her expectations of high-quality academic performance – students are certainly not let off the hook or treated any differently due to their complicated life circumstances. Each and every student is expected to perform at a high level; to submit every assignment, transcend language challenges, and earn the academic standing required to maintain Webster Athens scholarship and LERRN sponsorship.
When asked why serving this community is important to her, she said “Because it makes a difference in people’s lives. Because it feels nice to give opportunities that otherwise would not exist. Because the refugee community fights ‘against all odds.’ And because they deserve what Europe has fought for: equality in education, health, life…”
If you or your organization would like to sponsor a student, you too will become part of our community of no-nonsense can-do activists and embodied advocates of Greek philotimo. Contact us to find out how.