Author Archives: Michael Gomez

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, April 2023: Cameron Akers

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, April 2023: Cameron Akers

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus feature for April of 2023 is Cameron Akers.

Cameron is yet another example of someone who has managed to combine a major course of study in Spanish with one in a complementary major (there are so many!)—in this case, International Business. Among the many activities in which Cameron has involved himself during his time on campus are his participation in both the Spanish Club and the Finance Club. Of course, he hasn’t been to many in-person meetings of either group this semester…Did he lose interest? Did he resign his membership? Neither/nor. He decided to spend the Spring 2023 semester in Trujillo, Spain!

Related to the above—and beyond—Cameron has distinguished himself by being named to the College of Charleston’s prestigious Dean’s List, as well as by being a part of the CAA Conference Championship Golf Team, the latter during the 2020-2021 season.

In his own words…

“I arrived at CofC in the fall of 2020 on a golf scholarship and faced a year of unknowns. I worked hard and became a part of a conference championship team while excelling in the classroom. However, I felt that I had been missing out on a typical college experience and decided to take time away from golf to chase new passions. I had been an exceptional Spanish speaker and student ever since I was in middle school thanks to the influence of my dad as he majored in Spanish at the University of Virginia. I also had a keen interest in business, so I decided to combine the two. The Spanish department at CofC has been beyond helpful during my time here and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities they have presented me. Sra. Hanahan was a key player in my experience as she urged me to double major in Spanish and International Business, as well as apply to study abroad in Trujillo, Spain in the Spring of 2023. I am so excited I listened to her because I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in Trujillo with a wonderful host family and the proud citizens of the town. Here I am also doing an internship with a local hotel creating small-group travel excursions for American travel companies in the Extremadura, Spain region. This has given me the chance to improve my business skills as well as showcase the beautiful area of Spain that I call home. With this experience, I have also had the chance to travel around Spain and Europe. With the continued guidance and support of the Spanish department, I hope to return to Spain in the future and forge a promising business career and continue to learn and grow in the beautiful Spanish culture.”

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, April 2023: Prof. Devon Hanahan

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, April 2023: Prof. Devon Hanahan

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for April 2023 in Prof. Devon Hanahan.

Who is that in the kitchen and what exactly is she doing? Why, it’s HISP’s own Prof. Devon Hanahan and, by the looks of those electrical outlets, I’d say she is in Spain whipping up some sort of delicious cultural culinary experience for participants in the department’s longstanding and fabled Trujillo, Spain study abroad program.

A graduate of the College of Charleston (where she attained her B.A. in Spanish) and of the University of South Carolina (at which she earned an M.A. in the same field), Prof. Hanahan has been a member of the Department of Hispanic Studies on and off since 1995 and full time since 2000, assuming her present role as Basic Spanish Language Coordinator in 2014.

As her students and colleagues will both attest, Prof. Hanahan is a fixture at many of the Department’s events, including Tertulia and those held by the National Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, the latter for which she has served as faculty advisor since 2020.

To sum up all the many ways in which Prof. Devon Hanahan has made Hispanic Studies (to say nothing of CofC at large) a better place is simply not possible to do in the present context. As such, the writer of this feature will end merely by expressing his gratitude to Prof. Hanahan for all she has done and continues to do, as well as his hope that she sticks around for many years to come.

In her own words…

“I am so grateful to have a job I love, and it all comes down to people and places. The College of Charleston campus and the town of Trujillo are two of the most beautiful and welcoming sites on earth, and it is a privilege to work in both of them. But it is the people that make teaching for the Department of Hispanic Studies such a joy. My colleagues are not only my co-workers but also my advisors, teachers, and cherished friends. My students are my professional raison d’être: watching them get excited about learning never gets old, and every one of them is unique and brings something special to my classroom and my life. I love my job as much as I did on day one, and I have never been bored in my life. That is my definition of success!”

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, March 2023: Dr. Carmen Gallegos-Pérez

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, March 2023: Dr. Carmen Gallegos-Pérez

Dr. Carmen Gallegos-Peréz is Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for March 2023.

Dr. Gallegos-Pérez—who graduated with a Ph.D. in Spanish, Latin American Literatures and Cultures from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — joined Hispanic Studies during the 2022-2023 academic year in the capacity of Visiting Assistant Professor.

During this time she did such a wonderful job teaching HISP’s program of study in the Spanish for Business Minor, that the department decided to make things permanent–starting in fall of 2023, when Dr. Gallegos-Pérez will assume the role of Instructor of Spanish for Business.

As any who have signed up to take Carmen’s classes over the past two semesters in Spanish for Business are well aware, her unique focus on Eco-Criticism and Extractive Industries — as evidenced in her doctoral dissertation, “Quantifying Amazonia: Ecocritical Fictions during and beyond the Rubber Boom in Peru, Colombia and Brazil (19th–21st centuries)”—makes for an enriching experience in which students learn, not just the terminologies and concepts central to conducting commerce in the Hispanic linguistical and cultural context, but also become aware of the history of the dynamic (sometimes good, sometimes not so good) which has defined relations between industry and society, and how this representation becomes manifest in film and literature.

Beyond the classroom, Dr. Gallegos-Pérez has also been quite busy since her arrival at CofC, lending her time, talents, enthusiasm — and, believe it or not, an as yet-to-be-named, sunglass-wearing, stuffed llama— to her activities with the Spanish Club, for which she serves as advisor. Additionally, she has involved herself with the CofC Hispanic Latino Club and planned a Latin American film festival, in conjunction with her colleague Dr. José Chávarry.

In her own words…

“What I enjoy most about working at the College of Charleston is the freedom to develop classes on topics I am passionate about, and to share this enthusiasm with my students. I find it inspiring to discuss and listen to my students’ perspective on topic such as business and commerce, environmental issues, and cultural and political topics about Latin America and Spain.

Moreover, it is fulfilling to guide my students’ development and it brings me joy to see their improvement in Spanish language, not to mention their success beyond the classroom–applying to fellowships, and winning awards!

Lastly, I am glad to have found a loving and energetic community at the CofC: participating in activities such as informal chats at Tertulia, events sponsored by the Hispanic Latino Club, and movies with empanadas in the Latin American Film series.  I love spending quality time with students and colleagues. There is always something exciting to do at CofC and this makes working here a unique experience!”

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, March 2023: Ms. Regan Honeycutt (’23)

Hispanic Studies Student Focus, March 2023: Ms. Regan Honeycutt (’23)

Ms. Regan Honeycutt is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for March of 2023.

Ever wonder if you could fit in a major in Spanish along with that B.S. in Biology? Well, ecce Regan Honeycutt and wonder no more. A major in Spanish since her first year on campus, Regan has also managed to undertake parallel studies, not just in Biology, but also in Linguistics, in which she will receive a minor.

Within Hispanic Studies, Regan has been a constant contributor through such activities as her tutoring of HISP’s Spanish students in her work with the Center for Student Learning, as well as in the context of the department’s dynamic Spanish Club, for which she serves as president.

When not engaged in her studies of Spanish, Regan keeps herself occupied (and quite occupied at that) with her research into matters biological and linguistical—an example of the former being her studies into “The effects of elevated salinity on mate choice and oviposition site choice in squirrel treefrogs (Hyla squirella).”

In her own words…

“I started learning Spanish in high school and knew I wanted to major in college. I never expected such an amazing experience with the Department. I have learned so much! Not just the language either, but culture, literature, art, representation, politics, and even environmental ecology. The Hispanic Studies Department has always felt like a family to me. I have always been so grateful for my Spanish professors. Every single one has not only remembered me, but they will stop in the halls to ask me how I am. They are always willing to give me advice long after their class has ended. In fact, I have always felt torn between my two majors: Biology and Spanish. I couldn’t really find an intersection between the two. However, this year my professors Dr. Ricard Viñas de Puig, Dr. Colleen Moorman, and Dr. Ezequiel Durand-Lopez have helped me finally find my place in academia. The knowledge, connections, and advice I gained during my time here will follow me throughout my life.”

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.”