Michelle Pillepich ’14 Senior Profile: Hispanic Studies

Pillepich.MIn high school, Spanish was always my favorite subject. The language seemed to come easily to me and I loved learning about foreign culture while creating a connection through language. I knew I wanted to continue studying Spanish in college so I took a few introductory classes and eventually decided I might as well major! The best part of my Hispanic Studies experience was definitely studying abroad on the Cadiz program during the summer between my sophomore and junior year. This was such an incredible experience of cultural immersion and study. In Cadiz, I improved my language skills immensely while communicating with local Spaniards. I came away with a better sense of the language as well as an incredible relationship with my amazing host mother! (and her family!). The research aspect of the Cadiz program was also thoroughly enriching. I was able to study a topic I am truly interested in (Spanish food!) despite the fact that I had never taken a class on this topic at school. It was liberating to be given so much freedom in research while we were in Spain so that we could truly explore all facets of the culture while it was available to us. I am so grateful for this experience!

Throughout my four years at William and Mary, Hispanic Studies has come to mean something very different than what I thought it would be. I came in as a freshman who didn’t want to lose my Spanish skills, and I am leaving as a senior who thinks about and analyzes cultural contexts of any situation. I am much more in tune with the cross-cultural relations in our society, and I take pride in the fact that I am able to understand and learn from another culture that is increasingly present in the United States.

I am hoping to work in the government or non-profit field upon graduation. I want to be involved in our country’s leadership and creating policy to improve American life. I would love to continue using my Spanish language skills and my cultural awareness to connect with all sectors of the US population, and possibly work with immigration as well. Even with graduation so close, my plans are always changing, but I know I want to stay on the track to becoming bilingual and I will not forget the skills and awareness I have learned in Hispanic Studies at W&M.

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