Dr. Lara Dotson-Renta P’27

Lara Dotson-Renta

Dr. Lara Dotson-Renta P'27

Spanish Faculty



B.A., Dartmouth College
M.A., New York University in Paris
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Lara joins Walker’s World Languages faculty as a Spanish teacher. She presently teaches Spanish 4, Honors Spanish 5 and Advanced Spanish: Literature and Cultural Studies. Prior to joining Walker’s, Lara held academic, pedagogical and administrative positions, including roles as a visiting scholar at Brown University in their Middle Eastern Studies Department, an Assistant Professor of Modern Languages/Assistant Dean at Quinnipiac University and an adjunct professor at Drexel University. Lara is a published author, having published work in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Her academic book, Immigration, Popular Culture, and the Re-Routing of European Muslim Identity, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in September 2012. Dr. Dotson-Renta is a Mellon Mays Fellow, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Romance Languages and Literature and a certificate in African Studies. Lara also holds an MA in French Language and Literature from New York University in Paris, and a BA in Spanish and French from Dartmouth College. Lara’s daughter, Catalina, is a seventh-grader at Walker’s.

What was it about The Ethel Walker School that made you want to work here?

Confidence and self-expression are vital to self-determination. I believe that the environment at Walker’s allows girls to find their own way to shine.

Who is your biggest female role model? Why?

My maternal grandmother in Puerto Rico was an educator. She earned a master’s degree in the 1950’s and was a head of school. She was far ahead of her time and influenced both my mother (a retired art teacher) and I to pursue education as a vocation. She and my mother have been my role models.

What was your favorite subject when you were in middle or high school? Why?

I loved French and have been fascinated by France since I was a kid. Learning French made me dream of places I had never experienced, and of a life beyond what I knew. I went on to major in French and earn my first graduate degree in Paris. My husband and I met in a college French seminar, and now take our kids to France about every other year!

What is your favorite part of the subject(s) you teach now?

I enjoy introducing students to Spanish language music, film, and texts they may not have encountered before and truly making language a point of access to culture. I am at core a lover of literature and love when students can begin to access great works and ideas in the original language.

If you were to give advice to an incoming Walker’s student, what would it be?

There is no need to “fit in.” Everyone can find their niche and feel at home just as they are.

What advice would you give to a graduating Walker’s senior?

Take risks, try different things, see new places, and push out of your comfort zone. Fail sometimes. You can do hard things; it’s how we grow.

Please list any awards, fellowships, or distinctions you have earned during your career:

Mellon Mays Fellow, recipient of the Mellon Mays University Fellows Dissertation Grant. I have presented papers at numerous universities and conferences, including but not limited to the Latin American Studies Association annual meeting, The Caribbean Philosophical Association, The American Comparative Literature Association, The Middle Eastern Studies Association, and the North Eastern Modern Language Association.


Immigration, Popular Culture, and the Re-routing of European Muslim Identity (2012)