Author Archives: Michael Gomez

HISP Student Focus, December 2020: Ms. Nicole Rogers


December 2020’s HISP Student Focus is Ms. Nicole Rogers (’21)

After starting off as a minor in Spanish, Nicole eventually decided to extend her studies by declaring a SPAN major…and a minor in Linguistics to boot!

Of course, as is the case with all Hispanic Studies majors and minors, Nicole has a wide range of interests.  As such, she has chosen to combine her Spanish studies with those in another field—Psychology—in which she is similarly pursuing a major. In each of these areas (not to mention others) Ms. Rogers has had considerable success, something evinced by her being named to the prestigious President’s List during the spring 2020 semester.

Outside of the Spanish classroom, Nicole has involved herself in such endeavors as peer mentoring students through the College’s innovative Adelante program –as well as through Eye to Eye, a national organization dedicated to helping students with learning differences thrive in the academic context–in addition to playing on CofC’s Ultimate Frisbee team, which, she says, has a lot of Spanish majors among its ranks (who knew!).

For all these reasons, and many more, Hispanic Studies is proud to close out 2020 on a high note by featuring Ms. Nicole Rogers as its Student Focus for December.

In her own words…

“My Spanish classes have probably been the highlight of my four years at CofC. I love the language, and the professors’ passion for their subject makes them teach everything so well, which has made me love the language even more […] Their excitement is infectious. Every day I learn something new within the classroom or during office hours [where they demonstrate their] talent/ability/superpower to make more complex and abstract concepts accessible. I will always remember my professor from this semester who gets so excited about course content that she sparks enthusiasm in her students, a trait that I’ve really appreciated during this semester of online classes.”


HISP Faculty Focus, December 2020: Dr. Ricard Viñas-de-Puig


Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for December 2020 is Dr. Ricard Viñas-de-Puig.

A member of Hispanic Studies since 2014, Dr. Ricard Viñas-de-Puig received his B.A. in Translation and Interpreting from the Universitat de Vic (Vic, Spain) and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics and Linguistics, respectively, from Purdue University—with his doctoral dissertation focusing on the topic of “Argument Structure and Experience Verbs in Catalan and Mayangna.”

During his time spent as an Assistant and now an Associate Professor at the College of Charleston, Dr. Viñas-de-Puig has been an integral part of Hispanic Studies, offering a wide range of courses in both Spanish language and linguistics (SPAN), as well as within the larger context of the Linguistics Minor Program (LING), of which he is currently director. In addition, he has consistently mentored some of the department’s top students, fostering their research in the Bachelor’s Essay context, among other places.

An accomplished scholar whose work has appeared in such prestigious venues as Heritage Language Journal, Southern Journal of Linguistics and in the upcoming volume, Amazonian Spanish: Language Contact and Evolution, Dr. Ricard also knows how to let his hair down–something he has done in good measure in his past advising of CofC’s Linguistics Club, as well as at more than one Tertulia and Casa Hispana cultural event.

In his own words…

‘Language is what makes us human, it is what has made us the unique species we are; language and languages are my passion. Teaching both Spanish and linguistics classes at CofC allows me to share this passion of mine with my students: I like sharing the beauty of the intricacies of Spanish, how certain verb forms allow you to express some nuances that are not possible in other languages; I like showing the complexity of different languages, but how they all share a beautiful, intricate systematicity; I enjoy teaching how language and culture are different, independent human capacities, but how at the same time they inform one another. One of the things that makes me the proudest in my profession is seeing a student being able to communicate a new idea in Spanish, a language that is not their first language, or seeing the ‘wow!’ moment in a student’s eyes when they learn a new, neat linguistic concept. And I am happy to be able to experience all of this at CofC.’


Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, November 2020 / Carola Ramírez-Castello

Carola Ramírez-Castello is Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for November 2020

An adjunct faculty member since 2016, Ms. Ramírez-Castello  has formed an important part of the Department’s Basic Spanish Language Program.

Prior to arriving at the College, Carola completed studies in Biology at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, Peru, and earned her M.A. from the Department of Latin American Studies at The University of Kansas, with a focus in “Afro-Peruvian Identity  and Its Connections with the Land.”

Such a varied educational background led to Ms. Ramírez-Castello’s employ at Illinois Wesleyan University, were she served as a laboratory instructor in General Biology and Anatomy & Physiology, and--thankfully--to her association with Hispanic Studies, which is so much enriched by her presence.

In her own words…

“Being a teacher at the College of Charleston has been a great experience since the beginning.  The supportive environment motivates me to thrive and give my best to the students.  Teaching Spanish in a cultural and environmental context helps me to instill empathy for others in the students.  To be respectful of other cultures and environments is an important quality in today’s world and is essential to becoming a global citizen.”

Hispanic Studies, November 2020 Student Focus: Mr. John Quirk

John Quirk is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for November 2020

Following his arrival at CofC in the fall of 2018, John wasted little time in getting involved with the Department of Hispanic Studies as a student pursuing a minor in Spanish, a peer tutor in the language with the Center for Student Learning, an attendant at monthly Tertulias, and as a participant in the College’s study abroad program in La Habana, Cuba (where he is pictured, above, “tomando un cafecito” during a break between classes).

A Junior in the Honors College, John has paired his minor course of study in Spanish with a major in International Studies, distinguishing himself in both areas by being named to the prestigious President’s List for the spring 2020 semester.

Of course, John has also kept himself busy outside of the classroom–among other ways, by hosting two programs on CofC’s Cistern Yard Radio.

For all these reasons, and more, HISP is proud to feature Mr. John Quirk as our Student Focus for the month of November.

In his own words…

My experience with the Hispanic Studies department has been phenomenal so far. I have had the opportunity to study abroad in Havana, Cuba, which has helped my development as a Spanish speaker immensely, and I hope to study abroad again in the future. I have had some great professors—including Dr. Hakobyan and Dr. Gómez—who have both shown profound interest in the development of my Spanish skills as well as a passion for the Spanish language.

Throughout my experience, I have had the opportunity to take some fascinating courses, such as a course examining Latin American cultures through the lens of cinema. With the courses offered, I have been able to improve my Spanish as well as learn about Hispanic cultures and history.

I hope to one day be fluent in Spanish and use this fluency to somehow help people by facilitating communication. My classes in the Hispanic Studies department are bringing me closer to this goal of fluency, while also providing me with knowledge of history, literature, and culture. I look forward to the future classes I will take with this department as I continue my studies and the connections I will make along the way.

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus, October, 2020: Yulian Martínez-Escobar

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for October 2020 is Yulian Martínez-Escobar.

Mr. Yulian Martínez-Escobar joined the Department of Hispanic Studies for the first time in 2011 and, since  his arrival, has taught extensively in the Basic Spanish Language Program.

With respect to his professional formation, Mr. Martínez-Escobar’s experience has been both varied and impressive, with studies being undertaken in foreign language pedagogy (B.A. in Foreign Language Instruction from the Universidad Industrial de Santander-Bucaramanga, Colombia [1996]; M.A. in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language from the Universidad de León—León, Spain [2007]), as well as in film production (New York University School of Continuing and Professional Arts [2001]; Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University [2017]).

Activities undertaken in both fields of endeavor, to be sure, have given ample evidence of Mr. Martínez-Escobar’s considerable talents: in the former, by way of his success in the classroom and manner of inspiring his students; in the latter, with the enthusiastic reception of his recently produced documentary, Invisible Hands—a film which documents the experience of seasonal migrant workers in South Carolina.

For all of the above—and much else—Hispanic Studies is proud to name Yulian among its accomplished faculty.

In his own words…

At an early age I developed a passion for traveling, and with it a passion for learning other languages to help me communicate with and understand people from different cultures.  As a teacher of Spanish, I love to challenge my students to experience cultures beyond their own, to promote a more peaceful and empathetic world, where nobody feels superior or inferior to others, and where nobody believes that other cultures are wrong simply because they are foreign.  My motto is: “It’s not bad. It’s different.”

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, October, 2020: Tomás Cox

Tomás Cox (2021) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for October, 2020:

Mr. Cox, a double major in Political Science and Spanish—with concentrations in politics, philosophy and law—has certainly not wasted time since arriving at CofC, keeping himself quite occupied as a member of the College’s Division I Men’s Soccer Team, as well as serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2018-Present) and volunteering at Northwood Church (2017-Present).

At the same time that he has been involved in such activities, Tomás has managed to study abroad (going to Seville, Spain during the 2019-2020 academic year) and even get a bit of studying done (as is evidenced by his appearing on the President’s List, the Dean’s List, being a member of the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society, of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society, etc.).

For all of the above-mentioned accomplishments—and many other reasons—the Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to have Tomás among its many talent majors.

In his own words…

I love and am passionate about every aspect of the Hispanic Culture! I love the language, the music, the art, the sports, and most of all, I love the people. I’m blessed to feel passionate about something and I have my gap year to thank for it. After high school, I took a gap year and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was, to date, the best experience I have ever had. I traveled and learned a lot about the culture and life. What I will most appreciate about my time there is the lifelong friends I made and the experiences we shared. It’s because of that experience that I decided to make Hispanic Studies my home at CofC. I wanted to stay close to the culture and continue to grow with it. 

Choosing Hispanic Studies as a major gave me a deeper appreciation for the culture. The Spanish professors have grown my passion and enthusiasm for the language and culture. They taught me the history while polishing my language and grammar skills. But they have also challenged me to take risks by studying abroad. I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, where I saw the monuments, history, and literature that I learned about from my professors.

It’s thanks to all these experiences – Study abroad, Spanish heritage, Political Science, and Hispanic Studies – that I have decided on a career that will help immigrants and refugees. I will pursue a law degree with the plan to do pro bono work with the Hispanic community by assisting with citizenship, working visa, or any other legal affairs. By utilizing my Hispanic Studies experience, I will be able to aid my Hispanic community in the United States. 

Dr. Joseph Weyers’ Invited Talk and Book Contribution

Congratulations to Hispanic Studies’ Dr. Joseph Weyers, who has been invited to present at the Coloquio Internacional de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), organized by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile).

The two day conference will be broadcast via YouTube:

For those so interested—and why wouldn’t you be?—Dr. Weyers’ presentation is set for Thursday, 10 September, at 11:45 GMT.

Also, don’t miss the “Presentación de libros” session –to be held on Wednesday, 9th September at 4:45 GMT—during which El voseo en América: origen, usos y aplicación (for which Dr. Weyers penned a prologue and back cover description) will be featured.

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, September 2020: Dr. Falcon Restrepo-Ramos

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for September 2020 is Dr. Falcon Restrepo-Ramos

Dr. Restrepo Ramos–who received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics and his M.A. in Computational Linguistics and Linguistics & TESOL, from the University of Florida-Gainesville, Indiana University and West Virginia University, respectively—comes to the College of Charleston by way of Indiana University, where he most recently served as Instructor of Record.

Among Dr. Restrepo-Ramos’s many research interests are Computational Sociolinguistics, Language Contact and Sociophonetics and Spanish L2 Development—interests which have served as the inspiration for recent publications, such as “Public Signage in a Multilingual Caribbean Enclave: The Linguistic landscape of Old Providence and Santa Catalina, Colombia” (2020) and “Sociophonetic Analysis of Islander Creole Rhotics” (2019), as well as for his development of SEÑAL, a program for the automatic assessment of Spanish L2 compositions.

Certainly, with such a diverse background and professional agenda, Dr. Restrepo-Ramos has much to contribute both to Hispanic Studies and to its students.

In his own words:

“I am very much looking forward to teaching in the Department of Hispanic studies. It has been my dream to start my professional career in higher education, and better yet at a place like CofC. I envision offering engaging and innovative courses that not only make students more proficient in the languages, peoples, and cultures of the Hispanic world but which also provide them with content, tools, and approaches that they can apply further on in their professional lives as well. I am eagerly anticipating making friends and connections here and beyond and contributing to the mission and future of the Department and the College”.

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for September 2020: Ms. Sara Thornton

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for September 2020 is Ms. Sara Thornton (’21).

Beginning her college career with a major in Biology and a minor in Studio Art, Sara quickly realized her passion for Spanish and teaching, making the switch to a primary course of study in Spanish / Foreign Language Education and secondary concentrations in Linguistics and Biology during her Sophomore year.

“I have always had a love for teaching, education, and other cultures,” notes Sara—something which becomes obvious when one considers the sorts of activities in which she has involved herself during the past few years, which include the founding of a non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational access for youth in Uganda; her participation as a volunteer in the CofC-led MedLife Peru program, in which she lent her Spanish skills as an interpreter for a mobile clinic; and her work as a tutor and Spanish instructor at the Low Country Language Academy, among other places.

A member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education and a Global Scholar to boot, Ms. Thornton has clearly distinguished herself while at the College of Charleston. For this reason—and many others—Hispanic Studies is proud to number her among its students.


In her own words:

The Hispanic Studies experience that I have had has been amazing to say the least. I find myself learning something incredible each day with the departments’ exceptional professors and courses. I learn so much from them inside the classroom and outside during office hours or helpful emails.

While studying at CofC some wonderful professors in the Spanish Department introduced me to the field of Linguistics. I found that this understanding and study of language is what connects people together. Language and culture go hand in hand. Language is the communication that allows a culture to thrive. Education of these subjects is what makes the breathtaking step of uniting our world, making it smaller and more accessible to all.

I would not be on the track I am today without their support, passion, guidance, and dedication. This spring after graduating, I will take a year to teach in Spain and then become a high school Spanish teacher with the skills, passion, and knowledge I gained from this department. 

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to grow not only in my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture, but also as an educator with the tools to share everything I have learned.