Katherine Wessman ’13 Senior Profile: Hispanic Studies

Katherine at Real Alcázar in Sevilla

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to foreign languages and cultures, attributing my interest not only to my multi-ethnic family, but also, perhaps surprisingly, to my solely English-speaking upbringing.  Throughout my childhood, I had exposure to many cultures, Portuguese and Puerto Rican being the most prevalent.  But somehow, without the language, I felt like I was missing out.  To my curious young mind, it was a secret code that I hadn’t yet cracked, and it became my mission to solve it.

    I began studying Spanish in school at age 12 and Portuguese on my own at 16, but the greatest opportunities presented themselves at William & Mary.  I chose to become a Hispanic Studies major because being able to really communicate with the non-English-speaking people I encounter inspires me.  Getting beyond the surface motivates me because being able to share language makes a person come alive.  My abilities in Spanish increased dramatically after just one semester at the College, and in the next two years, I was able to spend two incredible semesters abroad, the first in Florianópolis, Brazil, and the second in Seville, Spain.  These adventures have had such a wonderful impact on my life, and as a result of my experiences abroad and here at W & M, I speak Spanish fluently and have an advanced level of conversational Portuguese.  This has given me the special gift of being able to develop relationships with truly amazing people that I never would have gotten to know if I hadn’t studied these languages.  I am eternally grateful.

Next year, I plan to receive my Masters in Foreign Language Education and ESL at the W & M School of Education.  Then, in the years following, I plan to find a job teaching Spanish in the US or English abroad so that I can share my passion for languages and cultures with others.  I also hope to travel as much as possible, return to Brazil to solidify my Portuguese, learn Italian, and write a novel about all of my adventures.

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