[Original article by Prof. Francie Cate-Arries]
At the 8th annual Workshop on Intercultural Skills Enhancement (WISE) and Conference hosted by Wake Forest University in February, Hispanic Studies seniors Stephanie Heredia and Chantal Houglan took center stage. During a 75-minute session organized by the Reves Center’s Sarah Mullen, entitled “Embedding Undergraduate Research into Faculty-Led Programs,” and alongside their research supervisor Francie Cate-Arries, the two Cádiz program alumnae shared insights about the role that faculty-mentored research has played in their respective academic trajectories. Given that each student enrolled in the program during opposite ends of their four-year course of study at W&M, their remarks focused on complementary aspects of their intellectual journey as Hispanic Studies majors. For Chantal, who as a high school student had almost opted to pursue Fashion Studies through a design school instead of a liberal arts university, such an intensive international research experience after the first year of college, allowed her to consolidate her combined interests in fashion, retail, and Spanish cultural studies:
“So when ultimately deciding to pursue a Finance degree with an international emphasis, I knew I had to incorporate my love for the fashion industry in any way possible. This brings me to the foundation of my desired career path: the field work I conducted in Cádiz in which I analyzed the relation between the economic crisis in Cádiz and a local high fashion festival, South 36.32N: The New Fashion Latitude. I wholeheartedly believe that the field work I conducted as a freshman during my study abroad experience has served as a platform that has influenced and fostered my ability to pursue a career in my chosen path of fashion.
She adds that when she successfully applied for her recent New York-based internship with Moda Operandi, that her future supervisor was intrigued with Chantal’s research in Cádiz, especially her interviews with the Spanish fashion designers.
For her part, well-traveled Stephanie Heredia prepared for her capstone year at W&M—she had previously studied abroad in Austria and Ireland, journeyed as a pilgrim to Israel, and made family trips to Bolivia and Spain—ready to assume a new viewpoint as a different kind of international traveler:
“During this program, I saw Spain through a very different lens, a unique one of an aspiring scholar. What made this program especially memorable was the field research experience. The Cádiz program not only fulfilled the academic craving I had as every rising senior must, but it also created this unique intimacy with the culture and the people. Because of the field research, the full immersion experience that we all strive for happened. Because I have always been passionately interested in religious popular culture, specifically Catholic traditions in the Hispanic world, I researched how the feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated by the people of Cádiz … how it creates a unique community rooted in solidarity, affirming collective identity.
Stephanie credits the satisfying research she completed this past summer as strengthening her recent applications to various graduate programs in Hispanic Studies.
Hispanic Studies professors Carla Buck and Francie Cate-Arries co-founded the Cádiz program in 2003; Buck will direct the 14th annual research trip in May of 2016. For more faculty & student perspectives on W&M research in Cádiz, and links to sample student research papers, see http://mapping.wm.edu/spain/cadiz/