Hispanic/Latin American Studies Alumni Panel

Mar 18, 2019

UMD Alumni Emphasize the Benefits of Studying Spanish

Graduates from UMD’s Spanish programs met with 45 current UMD students to discuss how studying Spanish has helped shape their professional paths and enhance their personal lives. Some of the suggestions for current UMD students from the graduates were: 

  • Prioritize study abroad and experiential learning opportunities. You might never have as much flexibility and time in your lives as you do now. Look at all options. Does a short-term study abroad program make sense for you? A semester- or year-long program abroad? Speak to your Spanish professors about internship opportunities in the US and abroad.
  •  Majoring or minoring in Spanish enhances your career options. On top of linguistic proficiency in Spanish, coursework in Spanish at UMD provides an intercultural and inclusivity skill set that is transferrable to the workplace.
  •  Even if you don’t speak Spanish at your job every day, you will use other skills that you gain from a degree in Spanish every day. These skills include empathetic interpersonal interactions, flexibility, commitment to social justice and inclusivity, and intercultural understanding, among other skills.
  •  Speaking Spanish opens doors for travel and to connect with global and local communities. Communicative proficiency in Spanish often enhances trips in obvious (and, sometimes, in unique) ways. Connecting with patients in a health clinic or students at a school may lead to empathetic mutual understanding, and so much more.

UMD graduates, Christy Atkinson (Biochemistry BS & Hispanic Studies minor in 2017), Linda Craig (Hispanic Studies BA & Political Science BA in 2016), and Gina Farrell (Spanish BA & Psychology BA in 2002; Masters of Social Work in 2009), shared their personal and professional experiences and answered questions from current UMD students.

Christy, who is currently a Medical Student at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, plans to serve rural communities in Minnesota and become certified to communicate in Spanish with patients. She mentioned that the courses that she took at UMD in Spanish were intellectually stimulating and offered the opportunity to learn about history and analyze literature, a type of learning that was distinct from her courses in Biochemistry. A kindergarten teacher at the Nueva Visión Spanish Immersion School at Lowell Elementary, Linda encouraged students in the audience to follow their passion for studying Spanish. Her ideas inspired current UMD students to embrace their personal and professional aspirations. As the Northeast Minnesota Community Education Manager with Planned Parenthood, the ability to communicate in Spanish has enhanced Gina’s career. She pinpointed her participation in a study abroad academic program in Granada, Spain as one of the best experiences that she had as an undergraduate, and encouraged current UMD students to study abroad if they are able to.

All three panelists inspired current students to follow their passion, to choose a career path that will foment a happy and balanced life, and to intentionally prioritize goals and aspirations. They also discussed volunteer opportunities for current UMD students at the Nueva Visión and Planned Parenthood.

The Spanish Alumni Panel was hosted by the UMD Spanish Club and the Department of World Languages and Cultures and took place at UMD on March 19, 2019.

For more information about this event, Spanish programs at UMD, or study abroad academic programs, please contact Professor Jennifer Brady ([email protected]) or Professor Milagros Gómez ([email protected]).

Photo caption: UMD alumni, Linda Craig (left), Christy Atkinson (middle), and Gina Farrell (right), participate as panelists at the Spanish Alumni Panel at UMD.


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