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Alumni Corner

Eric Britton

Eric Britton, '14
Director of Development, Mayan Families

Eric graduated from the College with a BA in Spanish and a BA in International Studies (Latin American and Caribbean Studies). Directly after graduation, he taught English in Chile through the Chilean government’s Programa Inglés Abre Puertas. He then worked in Maryland politics, first as a legislative aide, then as chief of staff to Senator Cheryl C. Kagan. After two legislative sessions, he decided to return to Latin America. Eric now works for Mayan Families, a US-based NGO which facilitates sustainable development programs to a client base of approximately 15,000 indigenous Mayans in Guatemala. As director of development, he oversees a diverse group of programs, from school sponsorships and health initiatives to emergency aid and microfinance. 

“Adding Spanish as a major and studying abroad in Trujillo, Spain have proven to be some of the most impactful decisions I made during my college career. Thanks to the Hispanic Studies department and several inspiring professors, the door for bilingual, international jobs is open to me. As our NGO consists of an 85% local and indigenous workforce, the Spanish language skills I learned at the College have proven to be invaluable to my work (and travel habits).”  

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Stephanie Madison Schneck

Stephanie Madison Schenck '06
President of the SC Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP)

Stephanie Madison Schenck graduated from CofC in 2006 with a BA in Spanish and a K-12 Teaching Certification. She earned her MA in Romance Languages from Appalachian State University and is currently a doctoral student at Clemson University in the Literacy, Language, and Culture program. She has taught high school Spanish in North and South Carolina, and elementary school English in Madrid, Spain. Stephanie is the current president of the SC Chapter of the The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) and serves on the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers’ Association (SCFLTA) board. In addition, she sponsors the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at Clover High School in Clover, SC.

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Elise Lasko

Elise Lasko '11
Spanish and International Business
Training Specialist, Estrellita, Denver, CO

"My CofC studies, along with my 4 years of Spanish immersion while living and working in Honduras and Guatemala in health and development, education, and marketing, have prepared me for my current job working for the Spanish beginning reading program Estrellita.  My job combines everything I love to do: account and client management, travel, speaking Spanish, and working with teachers to help make their students more successful in Spanish reading. Every day I have the opportunity to interact with people from Spanish-speaking countries where we share our cultural backgrounds, regional differences in Spanish, and ways to inspire students through the Spanish language. Bilingual education is spreading throughout the U.S., and I am truly proud to be a part of a movement that is working towards creating a more bilingual and global society."

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MeredithRitz

Meredith Ritz '11
Spanish
Project Manager, InCord

"I use Spanish on a weekly basis: from fielding customer calls to helping employees with questions and medical translating if they have been hurt. We are an international company, on our video page is a link for the Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Puebla, Mexico. I organized this project, from idea to installation -- and we produced the cargo nets used on the cathedral structure in the video! 

"College of Charleston prepared me in so many ways to be sucessful in my career -- analyitical thinking, professionalism, writing and comprehesion skills, Spanish for the workplace ... the list can go on! The stresses and workload are much different; I really enjoy leaving at 5 pm every day and not having anything work- or study-related to do. I will probably go back to school for my Masters degree in a business-related field in a couple of years, but for now I am enjoying gaining valuable experience at a well-run small company."

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MeredithClark
Meredith Clark '02
Spanish
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

"After completing a BA in Spanish in 2002 and a Master’s Certificate in the College’s Bilingual, Legal Interpreting Program, I embarked upon a career in education as a teacher of English as a Second Language, Spanish Language and Hispanic Literature and Culture.  Along this path, I taught in Surry County, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; the University of Texas at Austin and the College of William and Mary.  At the University of Texas at Austin, I completed my doctoral research, an analysis of how visual and material textile art intersects with 20th-Century Latin American Poetry.  From this research, I published an anthology of literary criticism about the art and poetry of Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña, Vicuñiana:  El arte y la poesía de Cecilia Vicuña, un diálogo sur/norte.  Currently, I design and conduct professional development for teachers of World Languages at Dallas Independent School District."

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Laura Ferguson

Laura Ferguson '10
Spanish and Marine Biology
Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"Since graduating from CofC, I have served in the Peace Corps in Peru (2010-2012), earned an M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University and am now working in Silver Spring, MD for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. There my work focuses on supporting protected-species science. Our nation's protected species - sea turtles, marine mammals - are called ocean ambassadors because they cross international boundaries in their migrations. As a result, when we study and manage these species, we must cross international boundaries as well. I tap my Spanish occasionally for this coordination, but more often, I draw from the cultural sensitivity we learned in Hispanic Studies, seeking to understand a way of life that is different from our own."

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LaurenOBrien

Lauren O'Brien '05
International Business, Spanish and Pre-Med Studies
Founding Director, Embraced

"I never thought that I would tell (in español) someone named Sr. Muñez that we (Embraced) would be giving him a wheelchair, not to worry and that I hoped the rest of his day would be better...  Matter of fact, it was not long ago that I was sitting in class, going through conjugations or getting really frustrated because I couldn't make my mouth get out the jumbled mix of 'español' known as 'Spanglish' that was in my brain. However, looking back on the situation, there is one thing in my life that I am so happy to have achieved, and that is obtaining fluency in Spanish.  I can not express to you the beauty that fluency brings to your life, and I encourage all my fellow alums to keep conjugating, keep practicing and not to give up on your road to fluency.

"As a result of obtaining fluency (thank you to my wonderful professors, especially Sra. Hanahan, Sr. Escobar, Sr. Gómez to name a few) I have been able to connect to another world, one outside of English.  But, little did I know that Spanish would give me an experience and be the tool that would forever change my life.

"I went horseback riding a few days before the MCAT and ended up having an accident that not only left me side-lined for medical school, but also left me with medical equipment.  After healing, I wanted to donate this to someone in need.  I had been serving as a Spanish translator at a health clinic and had seen patients that needed things like crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.  This led me to question: if the purpose of crutches, walkers and wheelchairs are to provide mobility, then why do so many sit idle in closets, basements or worse: landfills?  This was the genesis of 'Embraced.'  

" 'Embraced' is a 501 c 3 organization that I founded.  We are on a mission to mobilize the estimated 87.5 million pieces of orthopedic and prosthetic equipment out of closets, out of basements and into the hands of those that need them most: the uninsured, the underinsured and the less fortunate.  I use my Spanish constantly. Non-US citizens are ineligible for governmental programs like Medicaid, therefore Embraced serves as a solution, providing medical equipment, like the wheelchair for Sr. Muñez, to individuals in need at no cost.  Thus, reducing healthcare spending and providing a solution to an individual in need.  I also utilize my Spanish when we do shipments to Spanish-speaking countries such as Ecuador.  My very own crutches were given to a gentleman in Ecuador.  

"Spanish has broadened my horizon.  I doubt I would have known about the challenges that non-profit health clinics face if I didn't serve as a Spanish translator at one.  I doubt that I would have started Embraced if I didn't speak Spanish.  And, I doubt that without Spanish, through Embraced, I would have had the ability to impact the lives of over 1800 individuals in need.  

"Fluency in another language allows us to connect to folks we might not otherwise be able to....it's beautiful.  I thank all my teachers for this gift and I encourage all of my fellow Cougars to habla."   

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Caldwell

Wendy Caldwell '90
English and Spanish Major
Associate Professor of Spanish, Francis Marion University

"The individualized attention that I received from the professors in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the C of C played a huge role in my own professional destiny.  Their passion for the field was contagious, and they inspired me to learn more and to expand my horizons through study abroad.  Summer study in Spain was a defining moment in my undergraduate career.  It opened my world in so many wonderful ways and led me to return for an extended period of time during my graduate studies.  I was also among the first class of undergraduate Spanish conversation instructors.  This experience gave me a taste of what life would be like as a graduate teaching assistant.   I am grateful to the special professors who mentored me and guided me toward a rewarding teaching career in higher education." 

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Hannah Tate

Hannah Tate Smith '10
Communications Major, Spanish Minor
Master of Family and Marriage Therapy student, Converse College

"Since my time in Chile, I have had the opportunity to work in non-profit, a startup, and a finance corporation. In every position that I have had, my Spanish has been extremely useful in connecting with clients, employees, managers - you name it! However, this year will actually be a turning point for me in my career. I have been accepted into the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program at Converse College and will begin in the Fall of 2016. Through all of my professional experiences, I learned that counseling was my strongest and most favorite skill set - it is my absolute passion, alongside Spanish (of course!). In congruence with pursuing my masters in therapy, I will be traveling to Nicaragua this Fall to do some market research on volunteer opportunities in hopes of leading small groups there to provide 'immersion' for all. I have learned that therapy and immersive travel can go hand in hand, and so I'm thrilled to eventually create a means for individuals to broaden their understanding of themselves and others through international volunteer opportunities. And, of course I'll be partial to leading these trips to Hispanic-speaking countries!"

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 Allessandra Castillo

Alessandra Castillo '10
Political Science Major, Spanish Minor; MBA from Tulane University in International Business
Corporate Relations Manager, Gecamin - Conferences for Mining (Santiago and Lima)

"My experience at College of Charleston helped me to shape my career in international business. Without the Hispanic Studies department, my opportunities to volunteer with the Hispanic community in Charleston through the service-learning course, and my semester abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, I wouldn't have had the knowledge base or confidence in my spoken (and written!) Spanish to develop working relationships with professionals throughout Latin America. Thanks to my experience at CofC, I now have clients and colleagues from Chile, Perú, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and even Spain!"

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Rogers

Chelsea Rogers '10
Spanish Major, Hospitality and Tourism Management Minor, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Minor
Community Health Organizer, Sustainable Food Center in Austin, TX

"So far after graduation I haven’t ended up quite where I thought I would be, but it has been well worth it.  I am currently in Austin, TX working for a non-profit that strengthens the local food system and improves access to healthy food in low-income areas.  My professors and classes at the College of Charleston inspired me to be open with my future, prepared me for working with Hispanic immigrants and how to integrate more comfortably into their culture while learning the language.  The training and experiences I had in Charleston improved my abilities to reach out to the people I now work with everyday more so than just with language, but culturally as well.  These skills are something I will take with me throughout life and I am very thankful."

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Alicia

C. Alicia Ingram Shade '01
Elementary Education and Spanish Major
Spanish Lecturer, UNC-Chapel Hill

"I never planned on majoring in Spanish until I met my CofC professor, Dr. Walter Fuentes.  Dr. Fuentes encouraged me to study abroad in Chile, his homeland.  The trip was magical and life-altering, and Dr. Fuentes turned out to be an extremely supportive and immensely inspiring professor.  The decision literally changed my life as I declared Spanish as a double-major upon arriving home.  I had several other wonderful professors at CofC too, like Dr. Escobar, Dr. Martinez, and Dr. Walters.  They all inspired me to teach Spanish at the university level, and I am truly happy to do so at UNC-Chapel Hill."

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