Languages Open Doors to New Perspectives and Opportunities

Students often wonder what they can do with a major in World Languages and Cultures. UMD graduate Emily Ostrand recently chatted via email with Professor Jennifer Brady about where life is taking her.

As an undergraduate student, Emily double majored in Communication Sciences & Disorders and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Psychology. After completing her undergraduate studies, she obtained a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders from UMD as well. She graduated in May 2020 with her undergraduate degrees and completed her graduate program in May 2022. She is currently beginning her career as a speech-language pathologist in a Duluth area elementary school. 

Brady: Did you participate in a study abroad program at UMD? If so, in what ways did that program shape your personal growth and professional goals?

Ostrand: During my time at UMD I participated in the short-term summer study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. Participating in this program helped expand my world view and increase my cultural awareness. I was also able to use my Spanish skills in a real-world setting, which sparked my interest in becoming a bilingual speech-language pathologist. I continued to pursue my interest in bilingual speech therapy by participating in a bilingual speech therapy abroad program in the Dominican Republic. The language and culture skills that I developed during my time in the UMD Spanish program were extremely beneficial and helped me to feel comfortable and competent during my time in the DR. 

Brady: What personal and professional skills have you gained from learning a new language and learning about other cultures?

Ostrand: Although I don’t currently use Spanish in my daily life, studying abroad and having knowledge of a culture different than my own has changed the way I interact with others. I am more open to new ideas and perspectives, which has allowed me to form unexpected and unique personal and professional relationships. I will also be able to use my knowledge of Spanish culture and openness to different cultures when working with my speech therapy students. 

Brady: What is your best memory of UMD's Spanish program?

Ostrand: My favorite memory of the UMD Spanish program was my trip to Salamanca. More specifically, I enjoyed spending time with friends and trying new foods while taking in the beautiful view of the Plaza Mayor. 

Brady: What advice would you give a UMD student who is considering taking a world language class?

Ostrand: I would tell any UMD student who is considering taking a world language class to just give it a try! I was unsure about studying a world language in college, but after my first Spanish class at UMD I knew that pursuing a major in Hispanic Studies was right for me. Even if you take a few classes and realize you don’t have a passion for it, it will still help you to expand your world view and to become a more well-rounded and culturally competent person. 

Brady: What are some of your hopes and dreams for your future?

Ostrand: After the completion of the 2022-2023 school year, I hope to become a fully licensed speech-language pathologist. It is my dream to provide speech therapy services to children and families in both English and Spanish. Using my Spanish skills in a speech therapy setting is an important goal for me because it combines both of my unique interests into the perfect career. I would also love to return to Spain or travel to other Spanish speaking countries such as Costa Rica or Guatemala during my free time.


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