For the 8th time since 2011, the College of Charleston’s Nu Zeta Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, has been selected as an Honor Chapter for its noteworthy activities during the academic year. Of the 625 chapters nationwide, the Executive Committee selects 12-15 Honor Chapters yearly for this prestigious distinction. In July 2019, the College of Charleston was one of only 16 institutions to receive this honor for activities realized during the 2018-19 academic year, during which time Drs. Susan Divine and Carmen Grace served as chapter advisers, and Adriana Velasquez (’19) as student chapter president.
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A double major in Spanish and International Studies with a minor in Linguistics (’19), Jenna McLaughlin is also a member of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and she served as a Spanish Peer Teacher (2016), a CofC Spanish Tutor (2016-17), Secretary for the Special Needs Peer Helper (2015), and Team Captain for Relay for Life (2015), among other activities. In the spring of 2018 she studied abroad in Seville, Spain, and in 2016 she traveled to Honduras and Mexico to volunteer as a Spanish/English Interpreter with Torch Missions and Campus Church respectively. Jenna also worked as a Spanish/English Medical Interpreter at Cahaba Valley Healthcare in Birmingham, AL in 2015.
In her own words:
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Spanish Major at CofC. Spanish has always been one of my favorite subjects, and the professors here at the College really helped me refine my skills and feel completely prepared to study abroad in Seville, Spain. Studying abroad is an enjoyable, empowering, and enlightening experience that I would recommend to any younger student, especially those who are interested in learning about language and culture!
One of my favorite parts about being a Spanish major is the freedom it allows me in my post-grad plans. In these past four years as a Spanish major at College of Charleston, I have had the ability to cultivate a skill that I can take with me in all of my future occupations! Coming into college, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue as an occupation, so I’m really thankful that my Spanish major has provided me with the flexibility to take the skill of bilingualism into a variety of areas.
Student Megan Stover, a double major in Spanish and public health, pushed for nearly two years to open a campus food pantry after a class project tasked her with creating a plan to make a difference on campus.
“After its opening, there have been so many students, staff and faculty that have reached out to me in order to donate, find ways to collaborate or simply learn more about the pantry,” says Stover, who serves as the pantry’s president. “I hope that we can increase collaboration with other organizations on our campus in order to increase awareness and decrease the amount of stigma that can be associated with being food insecure or needing help. Everyone needs help from time to time, and no one should feel ashamed about that.”
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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!
Sarah Dixon, a double major in Spanish and Public Health (’19) in the Honors College, is also an official College of Charleston Spanish tutor, peer facilitator, past Student Body Secretary (2017) and Job Coach (2016). She has also served countless hours as a volunteer in various contexts to include serving the Associate Director of Research and Data Management and the College of Public Health at East Tennessee University (2018), and Angel Oak Family Medicine (2017) in Charleston. In addition, she has studied abroad in Spain twice: in May 2016 with the College of Charleston’s program in Trujillo, and in spring 2018 with the Universidad de Pablo de Olavide in Seville.
In Sarah’s own words:
I am so grateful for the faculty in the Hispanic Studies department. Each professor I have had in this department has gone the extra mile for me and has pushed me to become who I am today. They encouraged me to study abroad, which I ended up doing twice, and they have supported me in the process of applying for a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Mexico, the Peace Corps, and graduate programs, all at the same time. My future is up in the air right now as I await the decisions from these different entities, but I know I have the support of my professors from the Hispanic Studies Department no matter what!
Danya Firestone, a double major in Spanish and Foreign Language Education with minors in Linguistics and Anthropology ’19, is also the Linguistics Club President, Honors College Sustainability and Social Justice Cohort Senior Mentor, and an Honors College Student Ambassador. In addition, Danya is an active member of the Chucktown Trippintones A Cappella group, Otro Sur (the Latin American Music Ensemble), the Jewish Student Union, and the Honors College Scholar-Citizen Initiative. Despite these numerous activities, she also finds time to collaborate with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Carolina as a bilingual translator and wish granting volunteer.
In Danya’s own words:
My experience as a student in the Hispanic Studies department has served an integral role in giving me an amazing experience at CofC. This department is a tight-knit community bonded by a love for the Spanish language, Latinx culture, and Latinx people. Hispanic studies professors really care about their students’ individual success and interests, and the department offers tons of opportunities to get involved with the Spanish-speaking population of Charleston. Because of the department’s connections, I have become involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a bilingual translator and wish granter for the South Carolina chapter of the organization, and a summer intern for the Mid-Atlantic chapter in Washington, D.C. Because of the Hispanic Studies department’s curriculum and faculty, which emphasize culture and linguistics in addition to literature, I was able to find my passion for Spanish and English linguistics, and I plan to apply to graduate school for that next year, in pursuit of graduate studies that will lead me to one day become a professor. In my final year, I am serving as the Linguistics club president, active in the Spanish club, teaching undergraduate Spanish conversation classes, and bringing a renowned linguist that researches Latinx communities, Dr. Ana Celia Zentella, to campus in October to talk about language discrimination practices. I look forward to what comes after graduation, and know that I have the community of the Hispanic Studies faculty and students supporting me!
Ana Camila Bailey, a double major in Spanish and Communication ’18, is a member of Global Scholars, Delta Gamma Sorority, and she is an Operations Assistant for the tech startup Casa. She has also served the Department of Hispanic Studies as a Spanish conversation peer instructor, and she studied abroad twice: in Lisbon, Portugal in fall 2016, and in Córdoba, Argentina during the summer of 2017. She also worked as a Marketing Intern for Bedkin and Sycer in 2017.
In Camila’s own words:
I attribute so much of my growth as a student to the Hispanic studies department at CofC. The Spanish major is made up of rigorous courses that focus on literature, language, and culture and has shaped my knowledge of the Hispanic world while improving my language and writing skills both in Spanish as well as English. The professors in the department push their students to go beyond merely learning the material, to instead develop a genuine understanding that can be applied to both past and present real world situations. My experience in the Hispanic studies department has re-inspired my love of the language and has given me the drive and confidence to continue this practice in future endeavors.
Le’ah Griggs, a double major in Music Theory/Composition and Spanish ’18, is a member of the College of Charleston’s Concert Choir, the Latin American Ensemble Otro Sur, the Spanish Club, and she serves as Librarian-Student Team Leader for Addlestone Library. She has also served as the Assistant Director of the Children’s Choir at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, and she is a private piano instructor. Le’ah spent her spring 2017 semester studying abroad in the College of Charleston’s program in Trujillo, Spain, with support from the Jean and Tap Johnson Study Abroad Award courtesy of the School of the Arts.
In Le’ah’s own words:
The Spanish language and Hispanic studies department at the College of Charleston is a close-knit, engaging, and welcoming community that I am proud to be a part of. Thanks to the dedicated professors and rigorous course work offered by this department, I have drastically improved my Spanish language skills, broadened my knowledge of Hispanic culture on a global scale, and have grown immensely as a person. The most rewarding experience I have gained as a student of Hispanic studies comes from my time abroad in Trujillo, Spain. So much so in fact, that after graduation this Spring, I will be returning to Spain to pursue a Masters in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language at the University of Alcalá where I have received a full scholarship. I plan to be a music teacher in a Spanish language immersion school in the future.