Emily Hemmingson ’14 Senior Profile: Hispanic Studies

Hemmingson.EAt the beginning of my freshman year I never thought I would be a Hispanic Studies major, but today I do not know what I would be doing after graduation without it. I remember even that after I declared my double major in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, I still considered Hispanic Studies to be my “fun” major. I decided to major because I found the challenge of speaking in a different language exhilarating. I often felt far from the most fluent in my classes, but the feeling of getting exponentially more proficient through each semester encouraged me to keep pursuing the major. I also loved learning about the different cultures of Latin America. There was a wealth of knowledge and history that I had no idea about until I started enrolling in classes about Mexico and Argentina and even the barrios in the United States.

Despite my excitement, until I studied abroad I considered Hispanic Studies more of a serious hobby than a path towards a career. That all changed in the Spring of 2013 when I boarded my first plane to travel to my first new country—Argentina. The experience was amazing. In addition to learning about the Argentine language and culture, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned how to go beyond basic communication where I felt shy and slightly anxious, to a point where I could speak Spanish and still feel like my comic, outgoing self. I never would have pursued a study abroad experience in Argentina had I not learned about that country in multiple courses taught at William and Mary.

My experience abroad helped me become confident enough to pursue a position as a Spanish teacher in D.C. Public Schools. So far I have passed the Spanish Praxis II Exam for teacher certification, I have been accepted into the D.C. Teaching Fellows 2014 Cohort, and I am on track to be in a classroom teaching by the fall of this year. Thank you to the W&M Hispanic Studies professors for all of the support and inspiration along the way!

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