Author Archives: Michael Gomez

HISP Faculty Focus, March 2020: Dr. Edward Chauca

Dr. Edward Chauca, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies, is HISP’s Faculty Focus for March 2020.

Dr. Edward Chauca, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies since 2015, received his B.A. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (2002) and his M.A. and Ph.D., in Spanish and Hispanic Languages & Literatures, from the University of California, Los Angeles (in 2008 and 2012, respectively).

A specialist in Andean Studies, mental health and literature in Peru, and human rights and Neo-liberalism in Latin America, Dr. Chauca has published extensively on such fascinating topics as “Psicología forense y criollismo,” “Indigenous Medicine and Nation-building,” and “Mental Illness in Peruvian Narratives of Violence” in some of the leading journals in his field.

In addition, he has contributed greatly to the department, its students and the local community, directing some of HISP’s top pupils in their undergraduate dissertations and volunteering his talents at such institutions as Midland Park Elementary School and The Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Library.

For all of these things–and a great many others–Hispanic Studies is proud to count Dr. Edward Chauca among its own.

In his own words:

Teaching doesn’t come without learning, and I am not talking only about students but about the learning process that professors experience. Since moving to Charleston in 2015 my students have taught me how to better understand the needs and struggles of the new generations, my colleagues have taught me from how to tweak a class activity to the importance of building collegiality and friendship. I have been very fortunate in directing two study abroad programs, in La Habana and Trujillo, and seeing how the nuances of culture and global politics blew my students’ minds. In difficult times, I have been moved when I saw colleagues and students raising their voices and organizing against injustice and hate. In College of Charleston, I have learned that teaching is a collective effort, and the best way to empower young people is to build a community in which everyone is eager to learn from each other.”

HISP Student Focus for March 2020: Ms. Brandy del Río

Ms. Brandy del Río (’20) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for March, 2020.

A Spanish minor, with a major in English, Brandy keeps herself quite occupied, being associated with such departmental organizations as the Hispanic Latino Club, as well as with others on campus, including the Vegan Club, the Alliance for Planet Earth and the Higdon Leadership Cohort.

As if this weren’t enough, Ms. del Río also finds time to volunteer her services to the MS Society, Vegan Outreach and the College of Charleston Honor Board.

And when she isn’t doing any of this? She writes poetry–and gets published! Check out Brandy’s poem, “Deniers,” in the upcoming fall 2020 volume of Label Me Latino/a.

Congratulations to Brandy, both on her accomplishment(s) and on her being named this month’s Student Focus.

In her own words:

I am an English major with a creative writing concentration. As a Spanish minor, I take pride in the language that, although it has transformed from the time that my family passed it on to me, I have learned with patience and gratitude. I also appreciate it from the literary standpoint, having learned about writers such as Nancy Morejon, Rosario Castellanos, and the illustrious Sor Juana.

Being involved in Hispanic studies has allowed me to create a better foundation for the identity studies that invigorate my desire to continue learning and writing. With the help of various professors in the Spanish Department, I have become motivated to continue my studies to further the depth of knowledge concerning identity issues and literature studies. Being published as an undergraduate has reinvigorated my passion for writing and in many ways validated it. Literature and Writing is so important, especially in this ever complicated world that we are living in.

HISP Faculty Focus, February 2020: Prof. Gustavo Urdaneta

The Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to present its Faculty Focus for February of 2020, Prof. Gustavo Urdaneta.

Mr. Urdaneta was born in Venezuela, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in the field of Modern Languages at the University of Zulia “LUZ”. In 2013 he went on to obtain an M.S. in Linguistics and Language teaching from the same institution.

Before coming to the College of Charleston, he spent 17 years teaching foreign language from beginning to advanced levels at a variety of educational institutions, including the University of Zulia, the University of Rafael Urdaneta, and The Citadel.

When not in the classroom, Gustavo enjoys traveling, reading, playing sports, and spending time with his family and friends.

In his own words:

I love the classroom environment where I can create different learning situations in which each one of my students can have the opportunity to share their knowledge in a free environment that makes them feel inspired by their work.

HISP Student Focus for February 2020: Mr. Aman Paintlia

Mr. Aman Paintlia (’20) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for February 2020. 

A double major in Biology and Spanish–with a minor in Linguistics to boot–Aman is the embodiment of a well-rounded, liberal arts education.

Within the context of his studies of language, Mr. Paintlia has distinguished himself both through his being accepted into the ranks of Sigma Delta Pi–the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society–as well as by way of his activities as a teacher’s assistant and tutor with St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church’s ESL program.

Besides this, Aman has been an active research assistant in studies focusing on nephrological syndrome, breast cancer and alveolar research; served as secretary and treasurer of CofC’s Political Science Club; and presided over the institution’s Academic Team.

While the above summary surely represents an incomplete picture of Mr. Aman Paintlia’s many accomplishments since arriving at the College of Charleston, it is more than sufficient to show exactly why it is that the Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to count him amongst its students.

In his own words: 

I started my freshman year in the College of Charleston Honors College with the hope that my Spanish major would allow me to improve my reading and speaking skills, but I did not expect to find myself so thoroughly immersed in reading works of fiction, and learning about the history and linguistic diversity of the Spanish-speaking world.

Even though I was unable to take advantage of the numerous study abroad opportunities offered by the Hispanic Studies program due to my busy course-load as a dual major and a pre-medical student, I was able to utilize my Spanish language abilities to help native Spanish speakers learn English as an ESL tutor and an undergraduate volunteer at the MUSC hospital, and MUSC CARES Free Medical clinic while providing medical care to underserved communities in the Charleston area.

Overall, the Hispanic Studies program at the College of Charleston has been invaluable in allowing me to pursue my goals of improved Spanish proficiency and Hispanic cultural competence. I hope to bring my newfound knowledge and experiences with me to medical school and become an exceptional physician who provides quality medical treatment to low-income and marginalized communities across the United States and the world.

HISP Faculty Focus, January 2020: Dr. Emily Beck

Dr. Emily Beck, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, is HISP’s Faculty Focus for January 2020.

Dr. Beck, a graduate of Columbia University, arrived at the College of Charleston in 2008. Since this time she has contributed immeasurably to the life of the institution.

In her role as professor and scholar, Emily–a specialist in Medieval and Early Modern Spain–has imparted classes on Early Modern Spanish Multiculturalism and (of course!) on the sacred Quijote, while publishing extensively in her field–e.g., “Religious Medievalisms in RTVE’s Isabel” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

She has also provided able leadership in her dual directorship, since 2018, of the College’s M.Ed. Program in Languages (Spanish and ESOL) and ESOL Graduate Certificate Program.

For all these contributions and more, Hispanic Studies is proud to count Dr. Emily Beck among its number.

In her own words:

The best part of teaching at CofC is the close interactions between faculty and students and the ability to share in our curiosity about the world around us. I loving running into students across campus and, even if they haven’t used their Spanish in several semesters, seeing how they can easily jump right back into it while we chat and catch up. It’s also a joy to keep in contact with alums years after they finish and hear the unexpected ways that studying Spanish helped guide their life after graduation. One of the things that Cervantes wrote that I frequently think back on when things seem overwhelming is the quote: “Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be!” Studying cultures helps cultivate my curiosity about the rich variety of human experiences in the world and imagine the other possibilities I’d like for our future.

Hispanic Studies, Student Focus for January 2020: Ms. Elizabeth Edmunds


HISP’s Student Focus for January 2020 is Ms. Elizabeth Edmunds

Ms. Edmunds, a major in Elementary Education and Spanish, has formed an important part of Hispanic Studies since 2018, when she began contributing her talents as a Peer Educator within the departmental Basic Spanish Language conversational supplement.

Besides honing her pedagogical and linguistic chops and edifying her peers, Elizabeth has been active in other areas–both at the College of Charleston and beyond–serving as Assistant Membership Director for the Phi Mu Women’s Fraternity and tutoring local children through Charleston Hope.

In her own words:

The Department of Hispanic Studies has made my academic experience a dream. I have never met a Spanish professor I have not loved. Over my six Spanish courses thus far, I have been met with encouragement and support. All of my professors loved what they do and wanted each student to succeed. I feel valued as a student and as an individual as each of my professors truly knows me and I am not just a name in a class. This is such a unique feeling, especially in college where it is often hard to form relationships with professors.

I am so excited to be putting my language skills to test as I will be studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain in the spring semester. Immersion will improve my Spanish exponentially and I will truly get to experience Spanish culture firsthand by living in the country. I am so grateful for the opportunity and ability to be able to live abroad as it is something I have always wanted to do.

I plan to use my Spanish skills by teaching bilingual students or teaching in an immersion school. Spanish is an increasingly important language to know, especially living in the United States with the growing population of Spanish speakers. I am excited about all I will learn on my journey abroad.

HISP Faculty Focus, December 2019: Dr. Daniela Meireles


Professor Daniela Meireles earned her Ph.D. in Iberian and Latin American Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research on inter-American cultures focuses on contemporary Brazilian and Spanish-American literature and film and examines the ways such cultural production challenges mainstream discourses of hemispheric citizenship, while building on those of  pan-Americanism and pan-latinidad.

Dr. Meireles joined the Department of Hispanic Studies at the College of Charleston in the Fall 2019 where she is currently an Instructor of Spanish and Portuguese and has been serving the Department as part of the Portuguese Program Steering Committee as well as co-advising the Portuguese Club and the National Portuguese Honor Society Phi Lambda Beta.

She will offer her First-Year Experience seminar in the Fall 2020 and she is excited to introduce freshman students to Brazilian culture, her home country.

In Dr. Meireles’s own words:

The love for foreign languages and for cultural diversity defines my personal and academic life. I hope I can inspire in my students the same passion for languages and cultures as well as the empathy necessary to become world citizens. I am grateful to the Department of Hispanic Studies and to the College of Charleston for the opportunity to get involved with the campus in many ways, whether it be through teaching languages and cultures, promoting Latin American cultural events, or being part of new initiatives and future projects involving Portuguese and Brazil.


Hispanic Studies, Student Focus for December 2019: Mr. Bryson Cook

Mr. Bryson Cook (Class of 2022) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for December 2019.

Pursuing an impressive triple major course of study in Public Health (B.S.), Exercise Science (B.S.) and Spanish [with a focus in Linguistics] (B.A.), as well as a minor in Medical Humanities, Mr. Cook still finds time to lead an active life outside of the classroom.

His many activities and endeavors include playing for the College of Charleston’s Rugby Club, serving as a Facilitator for the Cougar Excursion Camp, and participating as a member of such organizations as Omicron Delta Kappa, CofC’s Honor Society Chapter.

One last distinction which merits mention is Bryson’s being awarded the inaugural Hispanic Studies’ Trujillo Scholarship for study in Spain during the spring semester of 2020.

For all of the above, and for much more, Hispanic Studies is proud to feature Mr. Bryson Cook as its Student Focus for December 2019.

In his own words:

I am grateful for the faculty in the Hispanic Studies department; their dedication and passion are unparalleled. Each professor has been extremely encouraging. I have immensely enjoyed the lecture and conversation courses in learning how to effectively communicate in Spanish. The Global Scholars, Hispanic Studies Career Seminar Series lecture events and HispaCasts are informative and fascinating. Also, I’ve found the Tertulia monthly meetings to be a great way to make new friends, while utilizing and continuing to learn the Spanish language. Additionally, I am honored and appreciative to the Hispanic Studies Advisory Board for the inaugural Trujillo, Spain Study Abroad Scholarship. With great enthusiasm, I am embarking on my first study abroad for Spring 2020 to continue learning the language, culture, and history in an immersed atmosphere that will undoubtedly be an invaluable experience.

Upon my return, I look forward to applying for both the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society and the student peer teacher for Spanish conversation courses. Also, engaging in a Spanish Service-Learning course and volunteering as a translator for the MUSC CARES Clinic.

After I graduate, my professional career choice is in the health field. My core passion is aiding individuals to have a more fulfilled life. The perpetual pursuit of the Spanish language will allow me to better achieve that.

“Only A Life Lived For Others Is a Life Worthwhile” – Albert Einstein

 Thank you,

Bryson Cook

HISP Faculty Focus, November 2019: Marisol Castro-Calzada

Ms. Marisol Castro-Calzada–a 2008 graduate of the College of Charleston’s M.Ed. in Spanish program, as well as of Western Carolina University (B.A. in Business Administration, 2002)–has been an integral part of Hispanic Studies since December of 2008.

Since joining the department as an Adjunct Lecturer in Spanish, Ms. Castro-Calzada has expertly taught classes in the Basic Spanish Language program, both online and face-to-face. In addition, she has contributed significantly to the Distance Education Committee, the Basic Language Planning Committee and as a mentor in the Mentoring Matters program.

Previous to her career at the College of Charleston, Marisol served as an instructor and, ultimately, as Department Chair at the Charleston Collegiate School. Certainly, we are glad she chose to join Hispanic Studies, as the department is immeasurably enriched by her presence.

In her own words:

“I’m one of those fortunate people who have found their life’s passion in their work. As a CofC faculty member for the last ten years, I have been able to help my students gain a greater understanding of the world through the study of other languages and cultures. As a mentor and an educator, I have had the opportunity to develop close relationships with my students throughout their learning experiences. And, as a member of the Hispanic Studies Department, I have been very fortunate to collaborate with the department’s exceptional faculty, who are always a source of inspiration and growth.”