Our Outstanding Seniors
Click the photos below to learn about our nominated Outstanding World Languages and Cultures seniors, and read the advice they've written for students.
BA Russian | BA International Studies
My best friend in high school was a Ukrainian exchange student and the Euromaidan was occurring at the same time. Talking to him about all those events kickstarted my interest in the region and languages.
Some of my favorite experience here at the U were at the Russian Club events. From the guest lectures on movies and authors, the tasty cooking nights, and the fun holiday parties and concerts made studying Russian fun here at the U.
Travel & use my language skills, and work for the federal government.
Speak as much as you can in the language you're learning, listening and reading is great, but try to strike up conversations with as many people as possible. It is usually a humbling but meaningful way to master your language studies.
BA Spanish Teaching
I learned so much in my WLC Practicum and I was able to use this learning into my student teaching. I enjoyed working with numerous Spanish teachers and creating my own teaching style.
After graduation I will take a break from school, but will return to receive a Master's degree in Latin American Studies.
¡Sigue luchando! Al final sabrás que todas esas desveladas, horas de estrés, y sacrificios habrán valido la pena.
Zurisadai Vasquez Bedolla
BA Spanish | BS Business Administration | Minor: Entrepreneurship
Both of my parents are originally from Tlaxcala, Mexico, the smallest state in the Mexican republic. I was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and raised in Victor, Idaho, both incredibly small and rural parts of the United States, where English is the dominant language. Nonetheless, Spanish remains my first language. It has always been crucial for me to maintain my native tongue, to facilitate exchanges and communication through language for others and personally when communicating with family members. Studying language has allowed me to stay connected and learn more about my personal identity and other cultures. Language opens doors by facilitating connection and allowing for improved cultural competency.
I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Madrid, Spain for a semester. Although Spanish is my native tongue, I had never lived in a Spanish speaking country. I attended Universidad Antonio de Nebrija and took classes with both international and local students. I lived in el Barrio de las Letras in an area of Madrid where all the famous writers and poets lived during the Spanish golden age. During my time abroad, I also traveled all throughout Spain and made connections with students from all over the world.
My short-term graduation plans are to travel and spend time in Mexico while also leading Strategy and Operations at Khalm, a local skincare startup based in Park City, Utah. In the long term, I will continue to pursue a career in fashion and retail on the East Coast or abroad. Eventually, I would love to attend graduate school to study Environmental Science or to further my knowledge of Business.
Step outside of yourself, believe in yourself, and look beyond fear. You will be surprised by how far a little bit of courage and action can take you.
BA Japanese | BS Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
I loved Japanese culture and really want to travel there someday.
For my practicum, I've been translating a short story from Japanese to English. It's been a great experience in learning the more of the language and exploring the differences between Japanese and American literature.
I plan to travel with my friends to some different countries, and hopefully go to grad school abroad!
It takes a lot of work to learn Japanese, but you can do it! The teachers at the U are amazing, and the experiences you can have here are one of a kind. Do your best and study hard, and you'll see some amazing results.
Serena Haravon Collins
BA World Languages & Cultures, Emphasis: Comparative Literature | BFA Theatre, Emphasis: Actor Training Program | Minor: French
I initially started studying French in seventh grade so I could secretly communicate with my mom and grandmother, and quickly found that I loved the process of language learning. When I got to the U, I added Spanish to the mix and then one day in a French class, I heard about a major called Comparative Literature, a field of study where I could essentially explore whatever topics interested me, and continue learning both languages. After a Zoom with Joseph Metz, I became the only student at the U enrolled in the then-under-construction CLCS major.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the School of Theatre, Circus, and Dance in Parque la Libertad in Costa Rica. One day, the head teacher called me and asked if I could fill in for his class in an hour. So, I threw together a lesson plan and taught Teatro Comical entirely in Spanish! The most special part of this unexpected experience was how supportive and eager to help the students were when I struggled to find the right words. Also, I have to give a shout-out to my two favorite classes--Translation with Jerry Root and Empathy, Medicine, and the Human Condition with Joseph Metz.
I wish I had it all figured out, but there are so many paths I could take and I am still parsing out which ones I want to pursue in the immediate future. Eventually grad school is the plan because I love school, but don't ask me in what or where just yet. If you're in the same boat and don't know what you're doing yet, you're in good company!
Explore. The more diverse experiences you have, the more you will learn about yourself. Take advantage of what the WLC department has to offer, especially to Comparative Literature folks--you'd be surprised what random topic ends up changing your worldview!
Giselle Fagundes Draper
BS in Accounting | Minor: Portuguese
I am Brazilian-American and I wanted to study Portuguese and Latin American Studies to learn more about my culture and improve my communication with family members.
Being President of the Brazilian club was an amazing experience and I made friends and met so many wonderful people. Being apart of this student organization meant a lot to me because I was able to introduce part of my culture to other students.
I plan on pursuing my master's degree in accounting and becoming a CPA.
Get to know your professors, and to be involved in your program as much as you can be. Join a club, make friends, attend office hours, etc. I have made lifelong connections while studying Portuguese at the U, and those connections have given me so many opportunities.
BA Chinese | BA Asian Studies
I was looking to learn more about my cultural roots as well as prepare myself for a job with the State Department.
One of the most fun parts of the Chinese program was the Chinese culture week! It was a great way to learn more about Chinese culture (free food included!) and participate in fun activities. I think going to the events also helped me develop better relationships with my classmates that lead to friendship.
I plan on working for the State Department and hope to help improve relations between the US and countries that we have strained relationships with.
Chinese is hard, but stick with it! There are so many opportunities out there for Chinese speakers. 磨杵作（成）针
BA Classics, Specialization: Greek
I’ve always loved learning about Ancient Greece, so when I got to college and took a couple classes within the Classics department, I knew then that I wanted to continue studying it.
II was able to do a UROP project that I could not have done without the help of my professors. Being able to research some of my favorite aspects of Ancient Greek culture all in one was such a fun opportunity and it gave me valuable experience for my future plans.
I will be going to graduate school for a Master’s in Ancient Mediterranean History, and I hope to continue onto a Doctorate in the same field with the ultimate goal of being a Classics/Ancient History professor.
Just be willing to ask questions. All of the professors are incredible, and they always seem happy to help as best they can. It can be a difficult at times, but it’s worth it.
Calder J. Lake
BA German | BS Biology, Emphasis: Cell and Molecular Biology | Minor: Chemistry
My brother decided to learn German in 7th grade, so when I got into 7th grade, I decided I wanted to learn German too. I kept taking German classes all through 12th grade and then was able to live in Germany, which was such a beneficial language experience. When I got back to the states, I knew that I wanted to continue pursuing a German major.
I was involved in forming the German club, which has since become sponsored by the WLC department. We do lots of fun things like watch movies in German, answer trivia about Germany and German culture, host card and board game nights, and visit the Christmas market. It has been very rewarding to be President of the club! I also had the opportunity to translate the audio tour map from the Natural History Museum of Utah into German. I highly recommend Professor Baumgartner's Germ 3750 class “From Grimm to Disney”. The class was very entertaining and engaging. I also recommend any class offered in German, because experience hearing and speaking the language is how you improve. All of the German classes and professors have been so incredible!
I am applying to graduate school to pursue a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering with the hopes of becoming a clinical scientist (MD/PhD). I really would like to use my German to research abroad at some point in my career.
Don't sell yourself short once you have set out on the journey of learning a foreign language. Some of the most rewarding experiences that I had because of my German studies came after a few years of effort. You will never know what opportunities you pass up by stopping midway through learning a language. That is right when the fun begins, and you really start to gain confidence in your ability to engage with the culture and to communicate! That is also a great time to seek out study abroad opportunities through the University. Nothing will boost your language abilities and be more rewarding than getting real immersion in the language and culture!
Honors BA Religious Studies | Honors BA History
In high school I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Her book opened my eyes to the necessity of religious understanding in communities. Religion is an important part of my life and I wanted to better understand religions that I was less familiar with and why they are important to others.
I loved Professor Christine Everaert's course "The Power of the Word: Subversive and Censored Indo-Pakistani Literature and Media." I knew virtually nothing about the subject before taking the course, but now I find myself watching Bollywood movies during my spare time and keeping up to date on the news in India and Pakistan. She brought an important current issue that is often not as focused on here to my attention. I feel better informed about the history and context of these developments as they unfold.
I am preparing to attend law school in Fall 2024. I am particularly interested in legal advising for government agencies or departments.
Religious Studies is a small major and many of the classes that you take will be small classes. Don't let that scare you away! Small classes are great opportunities to be more engaged and delve into the subjects with an expert. They are neat opportunities that most students don't get to experience at such a big institution.
Honors BS Health Society and Policy | Minor: Korean | Minor: Sociology | Minor: Chemistry
2 years living in South Korea for a religious mission, I loved learning the language and wanted to continue to learn about Korean culture and practice language skills.
The Korean program at the U has smaller class sizes, and I really appreciated the small-group-like instruction I was able to receive in many of my classes. The professors are phenomenal, and I was given the opportunity to practice speaking in ways that would have been difficult in a larger classroom setting. In my 4060 language class, I have a fond memory of making a cooking video with my friend as our final project. We detailed how to prepare one of our favorite Korean dishes, and then talked as we ate it.
Attend medical school at the U (just got accepted!), and become a physician.
Keep it up! Your studies in language will open doors for you, both professionally and personally. Linguistic competency is a sign of cultural respect, and you will never regret the skills you acquire. Good luck!
BA Political Science | BA Criminology | Minor: Italian
I've studied Italian since elementary school, so it made sense to continue my studies into college. I've always loved learning about the Italian culture, so I was super excited to pursue an Italian minor!
I participated in the Intensive Italian Language Program in Verona last summer and it was one of the best experiences I've had in college. Being able to fully immerse myself into Italian culture and be around others who share the same interest was so much fun. I met some of my closest friends through that program and I am so grateful I was able to practice my Italian for a month with some of the coolest people! Exposing myself to another culture has inspired me to do everything I can to eventually live abroad, and I don't think I would've felt this way if it weren't for that program.
I am moving home to Washington DC and will be working as a Research Associate for National Journal- a research/insight services company. I hope to work full time for a bit, and then go back to school to pursue a master's degree down the line!
If you have the opportunity to study abroad- DO IT. Find others who share the same interest in the language as you and practice! Stick with it!