Author Archives: Michael Gomez

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, February 2023: Ms. Elisa Peñaloza

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, February 2023: Ms. Elisa Peñaloza

Ms. Elisa Peñaloza is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for February 2023.

As any smart, forward-thinking individual inclined towards business can tell you, in our increasingly diversifying society, cultural and linguistic fluency represents the difference between a sale made and an opportunity lost.

Of course, you needn’t tell this to Elisa Peñaloza, who is already acutely aware of the fact, having paired her B.S. in Marketing with a Minor in Spanish for Business—a combination which, as she notes, will enable her to “use proficiency in the Spanish language to advertise and market to a Spanish-speaking consumer base.”

Besides her enrollment in the popular Spanish for Business Minor, Ms. Peñaloza is also active in the life of Hispanic Studies Department, being a member of the Spanish Club, the Hispanic Latino Club and a participant in the Spanish as a Heritage Language Distinction initiative—a program which recognizes Hispanic/Latino students at the College of Charleston with a unique and valuable connection to Spanish as a heritage language and to the varied cultures of the Hispanic world.

If the adage that the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts is true, then Hispanic Studies has good reason to be thankful that Ms. Elisa Peñaloza has chosen to join the department as one of its students.

In her own words…

“The moment I arrived at the College of Charleston, I knew I wanted to be involved with the Hispanic community on campus as much as possible. I grew up in a Mexican household in an area where there weren’t many Hispanics, so unfortunately, I never got the delight of being surrounded by peers who could relate to me. I was introduced to the Spanish as a Heritage Language Distinction program shortly after starting the semester, and I quickly fell in love with the program and everyone involved. Dra. Rodriguez-Sabater, my first Spanish teacher on campus, has demonstrated to me that regardless of your current level of Spanish proficiency, no matter how high you may think it is, you can always learn something new. It was because of her Spanish Heritage course that I read and finished my first Spanish book -ever- and am now able to proudly say that I know where to place the accents in my writing. Through this program and the Hispanic-Latino and Spanish clubs on campus, I’ve made many friends who understand the Hispanic experience and the importance of embracing our heritage. The Hispanic Studies department has proven to be a place of comfort for me, with passionate professors willing to go the extra mile to help me advance. I’m thankful to have found a place where I belong and am always welcomed with open arms. My time at the College of Charleston has only begun, and I still have much more to accomplish and learn during my time here. I hope to see the Spanish Heritage Distinction program expand and the growth of students who value the importance of the Spanish language and decide to continue with it.”

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus, February 2023: Prof. Elizabeth Cox

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus, February 2023: Prof. Elizabeth Cox

Prof. Elizabeth Cox is Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for February 2023.

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Prof. Cox was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Education in Early Child Development from the Instituto Superior de Profesorado de Educación Inicial Sara C. de Eccleston. Subsequently, she completed an M.Ed. in Languages at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, S.C.

As any student who has been fortunate enough to study with her well knows, Prof. Cox is a seasoned instructor who knows her way around the Spanish language classroom. Among the many beneficiaries of her pedagogical prowess have been students at Mason Preparatory School, Trident Technical College, Johnson & Wales, Bishop England and—last but not least—the esteemed College of Charleston, whose faculty she joined in fall of 2019.

Beyond the classroom, Prof. Cox has lent her considerable expertise as a Spanish language interpreter for the Medical University of South Carolina, in its physical and occupational therapy clinics, as well as for the Public Defender Office of Charleston.

In her own words…

“I have been teaching Spanish since moving to the United States from Buenos Aires, Argentina about 30 years ago. I have taught in elementary school, middle school, high school, and teaching at the college level these last 3 years feels like coming home. CofC is where I earned my M. Ed. in the Spanish language and where my entire family studied and earned their degree. My husband and two sons all played soccer for CofC. What I love the most about teaching college students is that I get to share my love for the language and the special nuances of each culture. By transmitting this passion, I have the possibility of opening a whole new world to my students, many of whom I see get mesmerized with the different perspectives and ideas they did not even know existed. It’s especially rewarding to see my students adopt my passion and look for more opportunities to explore the different ways of life. Many have gone on to take semesters abroad and always come back to share their experience and reward me with their feedback. All come back inspired and grateful for opening that door to a much larger world.”




Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, December 2022: Dr. Ezequiel Durand-López

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, December 2022: Dr. Ezequiel Durand-López

A recent graduate with a Ph.D. in Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition from Rutgers University, Dr. Durand-López also has received degrees from the Universidad Nebrija in Madrid, Spain (an M.A. in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language) and from the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina (a B.A. in Linguistics and Literature).

Since joining Hispanic Studies as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2022, Ezequiel has quickly become an essential part of the lives of HISP students and faculty, masterfully co-directing (along with colleague Dr. Carmen Gallegos-Pérez) the Spanish Club, taking the Tertulia to a whole new level (something which involves Jenga, prize give-aways and, believe it or not, a llama) and designing exciting new course offerings, such as spring 2023’s SPAN 316 Applied Spanish: Spanish Language Processing–a class sure to be a hit with SPAN students who are also studying Computer Science, Psychology and Business, among other subjects.

As for his fascinating research, Dr. Durand-López has published on “Morphological processing and individual frequency effects in L1 and L2 Spanish” (in the journal, Lingua), on “A bilingual advantage in memory capacity: Assessing the roles of proficiency, number of languages acquired and age of acquisition” (in the International Journal of Bilingualism) and on the topic of “L2 within-language morphological competition during spoken word recognition” (in Language Acquisition).

In his own words…

“I am most fortunate to work at the College of Charleston, where interdisciplinary teaching is highly valued. With regard to teaching, CofC provides me with a valuable opportunity to develop and impart interdisciplinary courses that are aimed at increasing students’ professional competence in Spanish at the same time that students acquire the technical skills of their profession in either Computer Science or Psychology. Specifically, I am developing SPAN 316, Spanish Language Processing, that allows students (1) to create a Spanish corpus made up of the fundamental texts of their profession and then (2) to analyze it using methods from computational linguistics that are useful in a wide range of professional environments. Additionally, I am collaborating with the Department of Psychology developing courses on the Spanish-English bilingual mind from a cognitive standpoint. I also enjoy how supportive College of Charleston is regarding community outreach, as I am also establishing connections between regional public schools and the Department of Hispanic Studies in order to promote the professional and cognitive benefits of speaking Spanish and being bilingual. I am very pleased to be able to conduct research in an area with a growing Spanish-speaking population, and to have students who are interested in making Charleston a place where bilingualism is valued.”

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, December 2022: Mr. Kevin Riley

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, December 2022: Mr. Kevin Riley

Mr. Kevin Riley, Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for December, is a Foreign Language Education and Spanish major, who, like many SPAN students, has also declared a minor in Linguistics.

During past semesters, Kevin has contributed to the department as one of its Spanish Conversation Peer Instructors and been a regular attendee at Spanish Club events, including the ever-popular Tertulia. In addition, as he puts it, Mr. Riley has endeavored to “ingrain [his] language-learning journey into [his] daily life” through such activities as his job at a Mexican restaurant, where he enjoys immersing himself in the culture and cuisine of Mexico, and his world travels, which have included Spain, Puerto Rico and —soon— Mexico.

Of course, it is exactly this sort of passion for the Spanish language and its many cultural contexts that Hispanic Studies strives to ignite in its majors and minors and it is students like Kevin that make the department such a great community to be a part of.

For these reasons, and many others, HISP is pleased to number Mr. Kevin Riley among its talented group of students.

In his own words…

“As far as my experience in the Hispanic Studies Department, I’ve found an even deeper love for world languages and cultures. I’ve always had an interest since I was young but coming to college has expanded it even further. I’ve also been able to meet many great professors who not only are very easy to get along with but show a great dedication to and investment in our learning and development as students which I find extremely inspiring as a future teacher. They have been great mentors in helping me explore all my opportunities for the future. Whether I pursue graduate school, the Fulbright Program, or a career in teaching English abroad, my professors and advisors have given great advice and been super helpful in helping me realize all the possibilities I have. Within the department, I feel a sense of community not only with the professors, but with my peers as well. I’ve made some great friends through classes and events offered who share similar aspirations so that we not only have good times together but can mutually help each other to succeed. I also very highly value the variety of topics within the classes offered in the department. I’ve talked to several friends in other colleges about their education and Spanish departments and the different aspects of each one, and I always find that I’ve made the right choice in coming to the College of Charleston in order to pursue my dreams.”

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, November 2022: Ms. Amanda Craig (’23)

The HISP Student Focus for November of 2022 is Ms. Amanda Craig (Class of 2023).

A dual major in Spanish and Latin American & Caribbean Studies with a minor in Linguistics, Amanda has –much to the benefit of those around her– fully involved herself in the life of the department and its many activities, clubs and societies, including the National Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, of which she is currently president.

Additionally, as many of HISP’s star students do, Ms. Craig contributes as a Peer Educator within the department’s SPAN Conversation Course track, helping those taking Basic Spanish classes master the art of expression while at the same time communicating her love for the Spanish language and its many cultural expressions.

Of course, being a globally minded individual, Amanda has let her presence and her talents transcend the bounds of city, state and nation, having completed a Virtual International Internship with an Argentine company, whose focus is the promotion of sustainability and of community well-being.

Amanda is truly an impressive person whom HISP is fortunate to count among its own.

In her own words…

“The Hispanic Studies Department has been a constant positive influence in my college career from freshman year until now when I am preparing to start life after university.  It has sponsored a love for learning Spanish that began as far back as elementary school. I am a firm believer that educators are one of the most profound influencers, exemplified by my Spanish teacher within the International Baccalaureate program who solidified my desire to major in Spanish.  The Hispanic Studies Department has given me the space to be the explorer that I am and the courage to reach my full potential even when I am sometimes uncomfortable with my speaking abilities in Spanish.  Due to this optimistic push, I am now a double major in Spanish along with Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and I facilitate academic conversations in Spanish as a Peer Teacher.  Although I have not lived in La Casa Hispana due to my job as a Resident Assistant, or studied abroad past a virtual internship, I have not been limited in my opportunities in the Hispanic Studies Department.

Hispanic Studies majors can have professors twice, even three consecutive times, and this is a perfect environment to foster a close relationship with your mentors as well as the individuals within the classes that you meet again and again.  Even more, you tend to see these classmates within other classes in your course load for the semester.  A family of love and support is made, as we all grow together towards a common goal.  Because of this comradery, I participate in the activities offered by the department like the tertulias led by the Spanish Club and have no fear of going to the office hours of my professors to ask for assistance or to simply receive clarification on a topic. The professors within the department are beyond welcoming and delight in answering emails and being a help wherever they can.  They will gladly go the extra mile to help you learn Spanish and the sociopolitical contexts within Latin America and the Caribbean.  If I could give a shoutout to every HISP professor I would, but I must prioritize Dra. Garcia who is more than a professor, a friend.  She is my academic advisor for both of my majors as well as a professor of mine who supports me in every meeting we have and congratulates me on my hard work.”

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, November 2022: Prof. Adelaida Bidot

HISP’s Faculty Focus for November of 2022 is Prof. Adelaida Bidot.

An impressive member of Hispanic Studies’ impressive faculty lineup since the fall of 2020, Adelaida received her education at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico—first at the undergraduate and then the graduate level—where she completed a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s Degree in Hispanic Studies. Subsequent to this, she went on to take doctoral level classes in Hispanic Philology at the University of Murcia.

Following her time spent in Spain, Prof. Bidot returned to Puerto Rico, where she taught at the University of Puerto Rico as a Professor of Hispanic Studies, and then at the Pontifical Catholic University, where she gave classes in Hispanic Studies–all of this, before joining the Hispanic Studies faculty team.

Besides her wonderful work in the Spanish language classroom, Prof. Bidot has a long list of achievements to her name, which include her being commissioned by the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico to research and write a series of volumes about the institution’s history (e.g., see her Padres Escolapios: Cooperatores veritatis, cinco décadas de espiritualidad en la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico [2016]), the publication of scholarly articles (e.g., “¿Para qué la literatura?” in Revista Horizontes [2011]) and her conducting an award-winning interview with none other than Isabel Allende (see “Conversación con Isabel Allende” in Revista A Propósito [1995]).

For all the above and for so much more, Hispanic Studies is happy that Prof. Adelaida Bidot has chosen to call Hispanic Studies her home.

In her own words…

“Being an educator, I have always felt that I receive from my students far more than I give to them. That is, being in contact with young people spreads energy, enthusiasm, and vitality. My students give me a sense of reality and keep me grounded looking to the future.

Working at the College of Charleston has reinvigorated my career, affording me rewarding professional discoveries. Even after many years of teaching literature, I have continued to discover how challenging and stimulating it is to be in the classroom, this time teaching about Spanish language and Ibero-American cultures.

In the Department of Hispanic Studies, I have found wonderful colleagues, collaborators, and supportive and creative people who are always eager to help and to share new ideas and experiences, all things for which I am grateful.”


Hispanic Studies’ October 2022 Faculty Focus: Dr. Sharonah Fredrick

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for October 2022 is Dr. Sharonah Fredrick

Hispanic Studies is pleased to welcome Dr. Sharonah Fredrick as a member of its faculty.

Dr. Fredrick, who joins the department as an Instructor of Spanish—hired, in part, to broaden and deepen offerings in the Spanish for Health field—has an impressive academic pedigree, which includes a PhD in Hispanic Language and Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (where she studied as a Turner Diversity Scholar), a Master’s Degree from Tel Aviv University in Israel in Medieval, Renaissance and Colonial History, and a B.A. in Anthropology and Languages (again) from SUNY Buffalo.

As both her students and colleagues can readily attest, Dr. Fredrick possesses a wealth of knowledge on a variety of subjects, ranging from indigenous medicine of the Americas, to Indo-Hispanic theatre, to Catalan Nationalism in Spain–even to the musical complexities of one of her favorite bands, The Beatles.

Among her most recent academic publications (of which I cite only a few) are “Piracy as Resistance in Early Modern Caribbean and Pacific,” in (REWR) Routledge Encyclopedia of the World Renaissance, (forthcoming) April 2023, “Mayan and Andean Medicine and Urban Space in the Colonial Spanish Americas,” in Renaissance & Reformation (R&R) Journal of U Toronto, 44.2,  December 2021, and her upcoming book, Killing the Deities: Resistance in Mayans and Andean Colonial Epics-A Comparative Study of the Popul Vuh and the Huarochiri Manuscript.  University of Nebraska Press. (forthcoming) June 2023.

Add to these impressive credentials and accomplishments Dr. Fredrick’s evident passion for teaching and enthusiasm for engaging in the life of the department and its easy to see why we are proud to be able to feature her as October’s Faculty Focus.

In her own words…

“The atmosphere of Hispanic Studies at CofC instils genuine excitement in the students and the faculty who teach there. I find it inspiring to know that the things we talk about, from universities in Latin America to artistic festivals in Spain, from science and medicine in the Hispanic world to business and commerce, and of course, to our great love of literature and languages (including both Spanish Portuguese!!) can be experienced by the student in real time. I adore the fact that I can teach a student about community health in Uruguay and colonial and indigenous medicine in Peru and Costa Rica, and they will have the possibility of experiencing these things, either in trips abroad or in the Casa Hispana, or any of the many forums that Hispanic Studies gives them. Teaching Spanish and Latin American literature is not just an intellectual exercise. It has an urgency to it that is the main reason I love teaching. Classical paradigms connect with present reality, so no one has to ask why literature, linguistics and culture are ‘relevant’; they obviously are. It is delightful to teach in an atmosphere that recognizes the value of the Humanities.”





Hispanic Studies’ October 2022 Student Focus: Mr. Max Moore

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for October 2022 is Mr. Max Moore.

On a hot August day I went to welcome residents into the Casa Hispana—Hispanic Studies’ living and learning community, located on Bull Street in downtown Charleston. Striding up to the house I spied a student and his father toting belongings up the front steps speaking…German?! “What sort of confusion is this?” I thought. No confusion, it turned out. Just Max Moore, a major in Spanish, Foreign Language Education –and, yes, German—moving in.

Looking at his list of accomplishments and activities, it doesn’t take long to see that Max is the sort of individual that the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs so highly values and cultivates—i.e., someone whose interests range far and wide, crossing borders and making connections.

Within Hispanic Studies, Mr. Moore has distinguished himself as member and Treasurer of the Spanish Club, a resident of the Casa Hispana and an alumnus of the department’s longstanding program in Trujillo, Spain. Beyond this, he forms a part of the German Club, serves as a German tutor with the Center for Student Learning and plans to head abroad, once again, when he travels to study at the University of Bamberg during spring of 2023.

In his own words…

“I started learning Spanish in middle school and fell in love with learning languages. I had always been fascinated with other cultures and places in the world and how we as humans developed into these vastly different societies, so when I was taking my Spanish and German classes in middle and high school, I was inspired by my former teachers to become a German/Spanish teacher. I had had more experience when it came to speaking German and had always felt that my Spanish was sub-par and was shy to even speak until I enrolled at the College of Charleston and met the fantastic Hispanic Studies Department staff and other students who are studying Spanish. The professors at the college are some of the most passionate, encouraging, and caring people I have met since I started college. I don’t think I would have learned or experienced half of what I have were it not for the amazing staff members. Because of these relationships the staff has built with us, I took a greater part in the Hispanic Studies activities such as the Spanish Club with their tertulia and various other events, my study abroad in Trujillo where I met amazing people and gained a valuable life experience that I will never forget, or being a resident at la Casa Hispana on campus where I live with other students studying Spanish.

I feel as though I am now better equipped and more confident when it comes to interacting with other people, whatever language that may be in, because of my experience in the Hispanic Studies department. For me studying Spanish is more than just learning about grammar or culture but learning to understand others. The world doesn’t appear as big as we sometimes like to think it is and I feel as though learning a different language allows me to see things from a different perspective that I would not have noticed otherwise. This feeling has been exemplified here at the College of Charleston through the wonderful Hispanic Studies staff and students. Studying Spanish has given me many opportunities that I am fortunate to have, but they don’t amount to anything without the experiences I have had or the relationships I have founded during my stead at the College of Charleston.”


Hispanic Studies Student Focus, April 2022: Mr. Luis Bravo (’22)

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, April 2022

Mr. Luis Bravo (’22) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for April 2022.

As has been clear from previous Focus features, Hispanic Studies’ students are a diverse and talented bunch—with Mr. Luis Bravo being no exception.

Within the academic context, Luis is pursuing minors in both Spanish (a language of which he is a Heritage Speaker) and Art History, besides working towards his degree in the field of Arts Management. Outside of the classroom,  but related to his studies, Mr. Bravo has been fortunate enough to secure a position as a Gallery Host / Intern at Charleston’s Redux Contemporary Art Center.

And, as for other skills and talents? Well, suffice to say that Luis has a few, including –but not limited to—being  able to play no less than four instruments (guitar, banjo, ukulele and piano) and having experience working both as a ranch hand and as a pizza chef. Talk about well rounded!

Returning to the context of his interactions within Hispanic Studies, as HISP faculty who have had him in class or those who have interacted with him at one of the department’s many extracurricular events (the writer of the present feature included) are well aware, Luis has contributed greatly—through his course-related insights, through his demonstrated enthusiasm for the Spanish language and its many cultures, etc.—to all activities in which he has involved himself. For this reason, and for many others, we are proud to feature him as April’s Student Focus.

In his own words…

“I honestly did not become interested in the Hispanic Studies Department until my junior year, when I realized I could add a second minor in Spanish to my degree! I wish I could’ve majored and Spanish and taken many more classes in the program as well as in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program. I had no idea there was so much I could learn and do with a degree in Spanish prior to coming to CofC or even until I started my minor! My passions have always been in political and social studies, and it’s been fascinating researching Latin American countries and their cultures.

Every professor I meet in the department is so passionate about the language and the complex intersecting and rich histories of Latin America: they want us to succeed and to love every second of working towards our goals. Classes like Spanish sociolinguistics, with the brilliant Dr. Weyers, have taught me more than I could imagine about the language and peoples. I have a different intimacy with the language now and I wish I could keep learning here at the College. As a Chicanx person, I feel fulfilled intellectually and spiritually about what I’ve learned and cannot recommend others enough to become involved in the department!”


Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, April 2022: Dr. Nadia Avendaño

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, April 2022

The final HISP Faculty Focus of 2021-2022 features Dr. Nadia Avendaño.

Dr. Avendaño–a graduate of the University of California, Davis (B.A. in Spanish and French), as well as of the University of Arizona (from which she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in 20th Century Latin American Literature) first arrived at the College of Charleston in the fall of 2003, when she joined Hispanic Studies as an Assistant Professor of Spanish.

Since this time, she has come to form an absolutely essential part of the department, contributing in more ways than can be easily recounted in a feature such as this. To her students, she has generously given of her time and her talents, imparting classes on such engaging topics as the Spanish-American Boom, Chicano/a Latino/a Literature and Culture and Contemporary Spanish American Fiction, besides directing more than a few independent studies. Additionally, she has engaged in meaningful and fruitful collaborations with students and faculty of other academic programs and units, including the First Year Experience, History, Latin American & Caribbean Studies and the Honors College.

As for her scholarly research projects, as her participation in such a wide variety of academic programs suggests,  these are as diverse as they are fascinating. Recent works include her “The Road to Healing: Pilgrimage and the Vietnam War in Let Their Spirits Dance” (published in the journal, Confluencia [34.1, 2018]) and “Negotiating Identities: Growing Up Female, Jewish, and Mexican” (appearing in the prestigious Bulletin of Hispanic Studies [93.3, 2016]).

Finally, outside the context of Hispanic Studies, Dr. Avendaño has expertly guided the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program since 2019, when she took over as its Director.

In her own words…

“What I love most about my position in Hispanic Studies is the freedom I get to teach courses that I am passionate about. I love meeting students every semester and connecting with them in class as well as connecting them to the Hispanic world through the study of literature, culture and the Spanish language. The pandemic reaffirmed for me that I do not want to be behind a desk. I want to be in the classroom engaging with students and on campus collaborating with my wonderful colleagues.”