James Riggs, a Biology major and a Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Minor (’19), is a First Year Experience Peer Facilitator and Team Leader, Treasurer of the Portuguese Club, Board Member for CougarCon, Vice President of the Catholic Student Association, Founding President of the Doctor Who Club, and accordionist for the College of Charleston Pep Band, among other activities. His excellence in leadership earned him the college-wide New Student Leader Award in 2016, and for his exemplary performance in the Hispanic Studies’ Portuguese Program, he was awarded the Outstanding Student of Portuguese in 2017.
In James’ own words:
With her first language being Português, my mother was the first in her family born in the USA.
Unfortunately, by the time of my interest in our culture, my mother and grandparents were no
longer effectively using the language. One of the primary reasons that I chose to become a
student at the College of Charleston was the offering of the Portuguese language. Despite being
able to transfer my Spanish credits from the International Baccalaureate Program, I chose to
instead investigate Portuguese. Dr. Luci and Professor José Moreira were most gracious to
my desire to learn the variant spoken in Portugal, often pointing out when there were differences
between the Brazilian and European dialects. I conducted Duolingo competitions with my
colleagues; I have served as Secretary, President, and now Treasurer for the Portuguese Club,
and I have worked as a Peer Facilitator for the Portuguese First Year Experience. I am now even
able to conduct conversations with my grandparents, and recently my mother, over the
telephone! The more I advanced through the courses, the more I wanted students to be able to
minor in Portuguese. I started a petition to demonstrate that other students were also interested.
After a long process, the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies minor is now available at the College!
The Portuguese minor pairs well with my Biology major due to my focus in Entomology. With
Portuguese in my arsenal, I will have the opportunity to explore and work with others in the field
from around the world, especially in Brazil where the diversity of insects is exceedingly vast.
While I have never gotten to partake in a study abroad, by having studied Portuguese at the
College of Charleston I finally will have the opportunity, for I will be leaving the country for my
first time to visit Portugal with my family in the summer of 2019!