Author Archives: Michael Gomez

HISP Student Focus, April 2024: Mr. Kit Fischer

HISP Student Focus, April 2024: Mr. Kit Fischer

Hispanic Studies is more than proud to feature Mr. Kit Fischer as its Student Focus for April 2024.

Yet another example that one can major in Spanish while simultaneously doing a primary course of study in another field, Kit Fischer finds himself in his third year at the College of Charleston with a major focus in Spanish as well as one in Secondary Education, whilst at the same time having participated in many of the signature cultural experiences that Hispanic Studies has to offer—namely, its spring program in Trujillo, Spain and the Casa Hispana living-learning community, where he resided during the 2022-2023 academic year. Beyond this, Mr. Fischer has been able to combine interests pedagogical and linguistic, lending his considerable talents as a Spanish tutor to the Center for Student Learning.

Of course, as has been repeatedly shown in HISP Student Foci, Hispanic Studies’ majors and minors have diverse interests and impressive accomplishments in other areas, with Mr. Fischer being no exception. Take, for example, his serving as cohort lead within the SC Teaching Fellow program, as well such artistic endeavors as his membership in the Charleston Vibes acapella group and his performances with theater productions such as the CofC student group, Center Stage’s representation of Deathtrap and his role in Two Gentleman of Verona, also a CofC theater production.

In his own words…

“Studying Spanish at the College of Charleston has been a life-changing experience for me. I have met so many professors and fellow students who share the same passion for the language that I do. Some of my classmates in my HISP classes have turned into life-long friends.

The Hispanic Studies department feels like my safe space because all the professors I have met are supportive of my goals as a college student and my ambitions after graduation. I have also had the opportunity to study abroad in Trujillo, Spain, an experience that I will cherish for a long time. Not only did I increase my confidence in speaking Spanish with native speakers, but I also tried new foods, traveled to new places, and immersed myself in a culture unfamiliar to me. My Trujillo experience has also served me in the classroom back home, as my knowledge of Spanish culture scaffolds my learning of peninsular literature and history.

Along the way in my studies, I also developed an appreciation for linguistics. Through my Spanish linguistics classes, I have gained a better understanding of how the Spanish language works as a system of rules, something which is sure to benefit me once I enter the field as a Spanish teacher.

 As I wrap up my junior year and my Spanish degree, I have been reminiscing on my time as a student of Hispanic Studies. I know that the experiences I have had and the people I have met, along with the knowledge I have gained, will serve me in my post-graduation life, both as a professional using Spanish in the workplace and as a person living in a culture with an immense Hispanic influence.”



Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, March 2024: Ms. Maddy Landa (’24)

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, March 2024: Ms. Maddy Landa (’24)

Hispanic Studies is proud to feature, as its March 2024 Student Focus, Ms. Maddy Landa.

A Spanish minor with an additional minor course of study in Women’s & Gender Studies and a double major in both Political Science and International Studies, Ms. Maddy Landa has made the most out of her time at the College of Charleston—this, to put things mildly.

Maddy spent the Spring 2023 semester in Trujillo, Spain, where she lived and learned in the language and did an internship with Adalberti, a local business focused on tourism. After participating in this impactful program, Ms. Landa put her language skills—refined from her time spent in Spain—to good use, becoming a Spanish Teacher with Upward Bound, as well as volunteering to tutor local, Spanish speaking refugees in the secondary school context.

Additionally, Maddy has been an active scholar, in many contexts, including her work on a Bachelor’s Essay focusing on “Gender, Latine Identity, and Violent State Intervention,” as well as through her presenting a paper on “Monstering as Resistance against Argentina’s Exclusionary Neoliberal Polices of the Travesti Community” at the WGS South Conference during May of 2023.

Outside of the academic context, Ms. Landa has also engaged herself meaningfully in a number of contexts, including her role as Student Coordinator for the Office of Victim Services’ Safe Campus Outreach and Prevention Team, as well as through her role as Media and Communications Coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center at the College of Charleston.

Finally—though, this by no means plumbs the considerable depths of Maddy’s activity and accomplishment—Ms. Landa is a Global Scholar, an International Scholar, a Global Ambassador, and, of course, a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honor society.

While the Department of Hispanic Studies will certainly miss Maddy when she graduates this spring and goes on to do great things (some of which are detailed below), it is very happy and fortunate to have been able to count her among its many impressive students.

In her own words…

I have always been interested in cross-cultural exchange; it was why I began my Spanish language journey in the sixth grade, as early as possible. I continued learning the language through high school, but it wasn’t until I got to the College of Charleston that I was truly able to study the culture of linguistics in the manner that I desired.

My classes within CofC’s Hispanic Studies Department have always been my favorites each semester, and last spring I was thrilled to have the opportunity to apply what I had learned when I studied abroad in Trujillo, Spain. It was there that I was able to practice what I’d spent years learning; my host family and much of the community did not speak English, so I was thrown into an environment where I had to adapt quickly. I am so grateful for this experience. It taught me that learning Spanish is more than just a tool for communication, it is a lens through which one can understand culture better itself.

This is a lesson I took back with me to the United States. After Trujillo, I decided to volunteer with Lutheran Services Carolinas tutoring Spanish-speaking high school refugee students. I also teach a Spanish class with Upward Bound at CofC. Being able to pass on what I have learned to the next generation is incredibly fulfilling and is why I applied for both a Fulbright ETA position in Spain and a Peace Corps Youth in Development position in the Dominican Republic. I am thrilled to say that I recently accepted the offer with the Peace Corps and will be leaving this summer.  My experience with Hispanic Studies made these journeys possible. The classes I’ve taken, and my study abroad have become fundamental to my perception of the world and my place in it.”

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, February 2024: Ms. Sophie Faughnan

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, February 2024: Ms. Sophie Faughnan

HISP’s Student Focus for February 2024 is Ms. Sophie Faughnan.

A double major in Spanish and Psychology with a minor in Education, Ms. Faughnan is yet another shining example of the impressive sorts of students that Hispanic Studies attracts; well-rounded individuals who enthusiastically seek to expand their horizons and whose intellectual and experiential curiosity leads them to actively engage with and to enrich the wider world.

Just one illustration of such engagement is Sophie’s period of study abroad, which she chose to spend in Seville, Spain during spring of 2023. While there, besides living and studying in the culture, Ms. Faughnan interned as an English Teaching Assistant at Colegio Cristo Rey in nearby Triana, Spain—an experience which would seem to have been a positive one, considering the fact that she subsequently applied and was a semifinalist for a 2024-2025 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Spain.

Besides her impactful experience studying abroad, Sophie has also distinguished herself as a scholar, both within Hispanic Studies and beyond–an excellent example of this being her present Honors Bachelor’s Essay research into “Perspectives of instructors of Spanish in K-12 and higher education concerning the integration of profanity, euphemisms, and taboos into the teaching of Spanish as a second language (L2) in US classrooms,” which she is conducting with HISP faculty member, Dr. Silvia Rodríguez Sabater.

Finally, with respect to her extra-curricular activities, Ms. Faughnan has kept quite busy, serving both as the Online Media Manager of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Zeta Lambda chapter (of which she is a member), as well as Musical Director and member of The Acabelles, the College of Charleston’s all-female identifying acapella group.

In her own words…

“I was extremely fortunate to have been thrown into the world of Spanish language learning as an infant when my parents enrolled me in my hometown’s Foreign Language Immersion Childcare Center (FLICC). It took most of my childhood and adolescence to realize how valuable having this innate ear for a second language was, and it was the College of Charleston’s Hispanic Studies Department whose engaging coursework inspired me to change what was initially a Spanish minor to a major.

In my studies at the College, my Spanish language skills evolved from a party-trick-taken-for-granted to a core component of my identity. After my study abroad experience in Sevilla, where I tested the waters of English teaching to Spanish natives, I discovered a newfound fascination for language learning as a tool for enhancing cross-cultural exchange and engaging in empathetic human connection.

Friendships I made with Sevilla locals inspired me to steer my bachelor’s thesis in the direction of Applied Spanish Sociolinguistics, and continued communication with these friends draws me back to the Iberian Peninsula for further cultural exchange after graduation. I am thrilled to have been selected as a Semi-Finalist for Fulbright’s English Teaching Assistantship Award in Spain, and I owe my linguistic successes and their influence on my future professional endeavors to the Department of Hispanic Studies. ¡Tengo ganas de ver lo que me depara el futuro!”

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, February 2024: Prof. Carmen de los Ángeles del Rey

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, February 2024: Prof. Carmen de los Ángeles del Rey

HISP’s Faculty Focus for February of 2024 is Prof. Carmen de los Ángeles del Rey.

A member of Hispanic Studies since the fall of 2023, Prof. de los Ángeles del Rey’s impressive curriculum details the breadth of experience—both educational and professional—that she brings to her new role as an instructor of Spanish at the College of Charleston.

With respect to educational formation, and beginning at the B.A. level, Prof. de los Ángeles de Rey has degrees in Journalism and Communication, as well as in Foreign Language Education, the former from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the latter from the Escuela Universitaria de Formación de Profesorado. Beyond this, at the M.A. level, she has completed courses of study in Television and Interactive Media, as well as in Audiovisual Journalism, from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and the Escuela Superior de Imagen y Sonido, respectively. Finally—if all of the above were not enough, Prof. de los Ángeles del Rey engaged in doctoral studies in the Social and Legal Sciences / Communication Research at Madrid’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos.

As for prior professional activities, Carmen’s career has been marked by a longstanding engagement with the teaching of language and culture, both in the context of the teaching of English as a second language (at the Lagomar and Caude Schools, in Madrid, Spain), as well as in that of the teaching of Spanish as a second language (e.g., at the Institute of Cultural Exchange in Madrid).

In her own words:

 “It [has been] very important [for me] to develop […] an environment as professional and welcoming as the one I have found in the team that makes up the Department of Hispanic Studies. My work with my students is very enriching on an intellectual [as well as on an] emotional level. [Indeed,] I feel that I help them learn as much as I learn from them. I enjoy it very much when I see that I have been able to contribute something valuable to their lives.”



Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, December 2023: Dr. Carmen Grace

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, December 2023: Dr. Carmen Grace

For its last Faculty Focus of 2023, Hispanic Studies is fortunate to be able to spotlight Associate Professor, Dr. Carmen Grace.

Arriving at the College of Charleston in the fall of 2011 with a doctorate in “Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Literature from the prestigious Ohio State University, and having written a dissertation on “The Royal Preacher Alonso de Cabrera (1549?-1598) and the Power of Words: Eloquence and Commitment in the Sacred Ministry of Preaching, ”Dr. Grace has since distinguished herself in a great many fora and formats.

In the classroom, she has taught masterfully at all levels of language, literature, and culture, offering such engaging courses as the timelessly themed “Love and Honor: No Solution to the Conflict?”, as well as a class on “Mythical and Literary Seville in the Baroque.”

As for scholarship, Dr. Grace has this angle covered as well, having placed articles in such top-tier journals as Hispanófila, The Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, The Bulletin of Spanish Studies and e-Humanista—in the latter case, in the form of her study “Encuentros retóricos en las artes: La pintura y la predicación áureas.”

Beyond these contexts, Dr. Grace has contributed broadly and deeply to Department, the College and the Charleston Community at large, serving ably as Associate Chair of Hispanic Studies since 2019, lending her considerable abilities to a long list of committees and panels at all institutional levels, and co-founding the Charleston Hispanic Association, an organization “dedicated to helping the large Latino and Hispanic Community settle and succeed in Charleston.”

In her own words…

I am so appreciative of my position at the Department of Hispanic Studies, where I am constantly learning.  Whether it is from preparing a class or conducting [one] with my students.  It is enriching to be exposed to students’ ideas, experiences, and insights. Interacting with them in and outside the classroom is what I adore as an educator—witnessing their intellectual and personal development or their excitement when they decide, for instance, to study abroad. Being a tiny part of their journey makes my job rewarding!

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, December 2023: Ms. Emily Cox

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, December 2023: Ms. Emily Cox

Hispanic Studies is most pleased to be able to feature Ms. Emily Cox as its final Student Focus of 2023.

Having just completed her first semester at the College of Charleston, Emily has wasted no time in laying the foundations for her future professional and personal success, declaring major courses of study in three overlapping and intimately related areas: International Studies, Marketing and (¡por supuesto!) Spanish.

As for the latter area, the writer of this Student Focus was fortunate enough to have Ms. Cox as a student in his SPAN 275 Spanish Skills Review this past fall, in which she exhibited what, historically, have been the hallmarks of some of Hispanic Studies best students—hallmarks which include, but are not limited to, a genuine interest in broadening cultural horizons and a sincere dedication to developing linguistic skills through diligent application to studies and consistent use of the Spanish language (even on Monday mornings at 11 a.m.).

Of course, supporting evidence for the above high praise is not exactly in short supply, with Ms. Cox’s being a member, not only of the prestigious Honors College, but also an Honors College Ambassador, a Charleston Fellow and a participant in the International Scholars Program—the latter context in which she will travel this spring to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Rounding out this impressive profile, Emily’s membership in the Entrepreneurship Living and Learning Community, her being awarded a Barkley Scholarship through the Honors Program in Business and her having successfully pitched and promoted a product, SAFEKEY, which made it to the semifinals of the SC Innovates competition, all deserve mention.

For all the reasons listed above, and no doubt for many more to come, Hispanic Studies is proud to count Ms. Emily Cox amongst its many majors and minors.

In her own words…

I’ve always loved Spanish, having started learning it in elementary school and continued with it throughout my education. As part of my high school’s International Baccalaureate program, I really dove into learning more difficult concepts and exploring Hispanic cultures which only strengthened my love of this language. I knew I wanted to continue to pursue Spanish in college, especially with my goal of one day working internationally and my love of travel. Despite only being in my first semester here at the College, the Hispanic Studies department has already been so valuable in helping me decide how to make my dream of pursuing Spanish and studying abroad a reality. The department is extremely accessible and vested in their students and I love being surrounded by people who are as passionate about this language and culture as I am. The professors I’ve had the privilege of getting to know so far have been absolutely wonderful and I know I’m going to learn so much over the next 3.5 years (both inside the classroom and beyond it). I’m looking forward to all the future opportunities that will allow me to utilize my Spanish skills at home and abroad and am so excited to continue my foreign language education with Hispanic Studies.

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, November 2023: William Helfgott

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, November 2023: William Helfgott

Hispanic Studies is proud to feature Mr. William Helfgott as its Student Focus for November of 2023.

For anyone who wonders whether it is possible to pair a Spanish major with another rigorous course of study, William Helfgott is an excellent example of an emphatic answer in the affirmative.

A double major in Spanish (B.A.) and Finance (B.S.)—not to mention his minor course of study in Entrepreneurship– William has thrived academically in both programs during his time spent at the College of Charleston, where he is also a member of the Honors College and a Charleston Fellow.

Beyond the above, among the many on-campus activities in which Mr. Helfgott has involved himself has been his role as an ambassador for various programs—e.g., the Honors College and the School of Business—his leadership as a Student Government Association Senator and his founding of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

As for off-campus activities, like so many before him, William had the good fortune to study abroad with the College’s program in Trujillo, Spain, where—as he notes below—he had the “once in a lifetime” experience of spending a semester in a destination which is as unique as it is enriching and impactful.

To be sure, as is always the case with HISP’s accomplished students, it would be possible to list many more of Mr. Helfgott’s impressive accomplishments (e.g., his membership in the Global Scholars program, his status as a Maclean and as a Swanson Scholar, his role as CEO and owner of River Bluff Honey), but let it suffice to say that Hispanic Studies is quite pleased that William chose to pursue a major in Spanish, thereby serving as proof of what one can be accomplished when one sets lofty goals.

In his own words…

During my time in Hispanic Studies, I have had the opportunity to grow professionally, linguistically, and with hands on experience through their wonderful study abroad program. My time in Trujillo, Spain will forever hold some of my most cherished memories. The wonderful opportunity of studying abroad in such a unique place with a rich history would not have been possible without the continuous support of the Spanish department. My time in the Spanish Department has been extremely fruitful. Before studying abroad in the Summer of 2023, I was unsure and expressed doubts to Dr. Avendaño about my abilities.  Dr. Avendaño assured me that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and one I needed to take advantage of. I am very grateful for the opportunities the Spanish Department has continuously offered and look forward to the future.”

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, November 2023: Ms. Hunter Newman

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, November 2023: Ms. Hunter Newman

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for November of 2023 is Ms. Hunter Newman.

Ms. Newman, who joined Hispanic Studies’ community of talented professors as an Adjunct Lecturer in Spanish in the fall of 2023, comes to the department with an impressive educational background, which includes a B.A. in Communication Studies with a concentration in International Public Relations and a minor in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and an M.A. in Spanish with a concentration in Translating and Translation Studies from the same institution.

As for teaching experience and language expertise—as her students will readily attest—Prof. Newman has no shortage of such things, having been an M.A. Fellow and Graduate Teaching Assistant in Spanish at U.N.C. Charlotte, as well as a Translation Intern at UNC Charlotte’s Lab School.

Of course, the above educational and professional experience is just one of the many reasons that Hispanic Studies is grateful and fortunate to have Prof. Hunter Newman in residence. Paired with this is her energetic engagement with the active life of the Department and College since her arrival—an engagement which has included her enthusiastic involvement with the First Year Experience program.

In her own words…

I am blessed to work in such an amazing department. It is great to work in an environment where everyone is always so helpful and always has a smile on their face. I appreciate being a part of such a growing, vibrant department, it makes me love my job even more. I enjoy teaching at CofC, especially the first-year Spanish students because I enjoy being able to see their language development and their love for the language grow. It can be intimidating for students to learn a new language, but I love when what I teach clicks and to see their faces light up. Being able to teach the language I love is such a rewarding experience.”

HISP Faculty Focus, October 2023: Dr. Carl Wise


HISP Faculty Focus, October 2023: Dr. Carl Wise

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for October 2023 is Dr. Carl Wise.

Dr. Wise, who received his doctorate in Romance Languages from the University of Georgia, has been a permanent member of the Department of Hispanic Studies since 2015. Since that time, he has parlayed his research interests in Spanish Golden Age literature and nautical culture into more than a few fascinating and engaging course offerings (e.g., his FYSE Beyond the Map’s Edge: Exploration Narratives in the Early Spanish Empire, as well as his LTPO 250 Literature in Translation. On the High Seas: Maritime Culture, Piracy and Shipwrecks in Spanish Literature) and scholarly publications (e.g., 2021’s “The Atlantic Metropolis: Ships and Seafarers in Lope de Vega’s El Arenal de Sevilla,” which appeared in the prestigious Bulletin of the Comediantes, as well as 2019’s “Imperial Geographies: Poetics of the Atlantic in Juan Ruiz de Alarcón’s El semejante a sí mismo,” which appeared in the equally impressive Bulletin of Spanish Studies).

Beyond his considerable contributions to the department, Dr. Wise also lends his valuable time and tremendous talents in other contexts—for example, to the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World, of which he has ably served as Interim Co-Director since 2023.

In his own words…

I am fortunate to work in such a vibrant department that provides College of Charleston students with exceptional academic, study abroad, and cultural opportunities. Whether we are on campus discussing irregular verb conjugations and seventeenth-century literature, or we are at Tertulia debating the proper way to make a paella, the amazing interaction between students and professors at CofC makes teaching here a very fun job. I frequently have the same Spanish majors and minors for several semesters, and watching students grow in their abilities and interests in Hispanic Studies is my favorite part about working here.”

HISP Student Focus, October 2023: Ms. Isa Pinchevski

HISP Student Focus, October 2023: Ms. Isa Pinchevski

HISP is proud to present its Student Focus for October of 2023, Ms. Isa Pinchevski.

A double major in both Spanish and Public Health, Isa exemplifies exactly the sort of broad ranging intellectual curiosity that is a hallmark of the sort of liberal arts education that that the College of Charleston strives to provide its undergraduates.

On the side of the arts and letters, since arriving on campus, Ms. Pinchevski has involved herself in clubs and activities such as the Club de lectura (a Hispanic Studies sponsored Spanish language book club in which students get to read and discuss—for the pure pleasure of doing so!—works of literature with their peers and HISP faculty); on that of the sciences, she is a member of the Public Health Society and has spent time shadowing medical personnel in the E.R.

Related to the above, Isa–whose path has led her from Caracas, Venezuela to Charleston, South Carolina, by way of Florida– is an active member of Hispanic Studies Spanish Heritage Language Distinction (SHLD) Program, as well as a regular attendee at SHLD’s ever-popular Hora de la limonada, routinely hosted by HISP’s own, Dr. Silvia Rodríguez Sabater.

In her own words…

[Upon arriving at the College of Charleston] I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the health field, so I chose to be a Public Health major. To my surprise, I later found an in-depth interest in deepening my understanding of Spanish and Spanish culture and found myself pursuing a Spanish major.

Coming from a Spanish background, I had interest in learning more about my heritage and [language], so I considered pursuing a Spanish minor. Upon speaking to my academic advisor, she agreed this would be a great idea, so that was when I took the first step into declaring Spanish as my minor.

Since I am a native speaker, I took some placement tests to see what classes I could place into and I placed into SPAN 312 with Dra. Sabater […].  Although I am proficient in Spanish, I realized I was lacking some grammar and literature skills, as well as knowledge of different Hispanic cultures. This piqued my interest in wanting to learn more. In addition, I also realized that Spanish is slowly becoming a second language in the United States and that I can use my roots to help my community in the health field.

After taking SPAN 312 with Dra. Sabater I spoke to her about how I was only a Spanish minor and she gave me the idea to become a Spanish major. Thanks to her I declared […]. Hopefully in the future I am able to pursue a career in the health field as well as [within] the Spanish community.