Jade Tuttle, B.A. Psychology, Spanish Minor, Class of 2013
I didn’t make the decision to minor in anything, especially not Spanish, until my Junior year at UNCG. I had just changed my major to Psychology and was already nervous about having to fulfill the foreign language requirement. I had completed Spanish 101 and 102 at GTCC, so Spanish 203 with Alice Hill was my first foreign language class in a university setting. Through the semester, I grew more fond of the language, and Profe Hill’s teaching methods really worked for me. I grew more comfortable with learning the language. At the end of the semester, another professor within the department, Margo Bender, visited our class to talk about a very flexible study abroad opportunity that UNCG offers each summer. I was instantaneously intrigued to know more so I spoke with Profe Hill who encouraged me to apply. Boy, am I glad she did.
The summer study abroad program in Madrid, Spain was a life-changing experience. Although I wasn’t fluent, I was still able to effectively communicate with people from another country in their native tongue. This inspired me to continue on with Spanish courses and obtain a minor. Getting that minor in Spanish was undoubtedly one of the best things I have done for myself.
Since graduation, I have made an effort to continue building on my knowledge of the Spanish language through Spanish-speaking meet-ups, luncheons with UNCG foreign language faculty and local Spanish speakers, and maintaining the friendships I created in Madrid, Spain. I still consider myself “conversational” but it sure beats having no skills at all!
If you had told me during my undergraduate career that I would find a professional position where I am able to utilize both my Psychology major and Spanish minor, I would have said you were crazier than a honey badger. Fast forward to 2016: I am now a case manager working with The Disabilities Board of Charleston County in South Carolina and, although I am still fairly new, I have already been able to use my abilities to accommodate and communicate with Spanish-speaking families in the Charleston, SC area. It’s incredibly rewarding being able to give Spanish-speaking families who visit our office a sense of comfort when an individual even slightly familiar with their native tongue greets them at the door or over the phone. I’m not translating for these families (yet), but I can at least communicate effectively enough to provide a comfortable transition between something as simple as “hello” and “your translator will be arriving shortly. Can I get you anything while you wait?”
I will be travelling to Central America in March for a “casual” vacation full of backpacking, climbing volcanoes, and zip-lining. Knowing how to communicate in the native tongue will make the experience even more memorable!
I still have a lot of learning to do but I plan to continue building on my skills. As for my fellow and future Alumni at UNCG, I hope that what I’ve said encourages others to go learn a new language. The rewards of knowing another language outweigh any fears or hesitations you may have about taking that leap. Lastly, I want to say “thank you” to all the professors in the Languages, Literatures, and Cultures department at UNCG who never let me quit and always encouraged me to pursue my goals. Know that your skills, inspiration, and knowledge are being carried on for many more years to come!