In Memoriam

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Literary Scholar, Dedicated Teacher

Laura Kathleen Padilla ’96

Laura Kathleen Padilla ’96, March 16, 2014, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from complications related to cancer. Laura came to Reed with her twin sister, Sara Padilla ’96, and earned a BA from Reed in English literature, writing the thesis “The Dissolution of the Conspiracy: Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts” with Prof. Tom Gillcrist [English 1962–2001]. She went on to receive an MA from Pennsylvania State University and a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin, in English literature. Her dissertation was Land of Enchantment, Land of Mi Chante: Four Arguments in 20th Century New Mexican Literature. She wrote about the literature of her native New Mexico with “penetrating insight, unsparing honesty, and trenchant wit.” Her students at Colorado College, where she began her teaching career in 2006, remember her exacting scholarship and caring presence. She taught a variety of courses, including literary theory, Mexican American literature, and Native American literature. Laura noted, “My work examines the ways in which 20th-century New Mexico Hispanos engaged with the images produced of them by modernist writers in Taos and Sante Fe.”

Despite the physical strain resulting from cancer treatment, Laura persevered in her goals and was dedicated to her students and colleagues. She contributed to the Race and Ethnic Studies Program, the Southwest Studies Program, served on the student writing and minority concerns committee, and was at work on a book manuscript based on her dissertation. “Padilla offered clarity and insight into critical, and sometimes difficult, diversity issues, teaching in a gentle, light-hearted way,” said Colorado College chaplain Bruce Corriell. “Laura’s light and soulful presence will be deeply missed.” Prof. Gail Berkeley Sherman [English 1981–] wrote: “Last fall, she reminisced about how proud she had felt when she succeeded in her classes at Reed. We can be proud of the impact she had on many students at Colorado College and in the larger academic community. Laura had been struggling with cancer for the last 11 years. Her death is a tragic loss of a young scholar-teacher.”

Survivors include her husband, Peter Haney, whom she married in 2006; her parents, Eligio and Kathleen Padilla; her sisters Sara, Amy, and Lisa; and extended family members—many living near Bernalillo, New Mexico, where her family has resided for more than 300 years.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2014

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