We asked some graduates of Baylor’s Spanish program: Where are you now?

Last week, Dr. Michael Thomas, professor of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the Spanish/Portuguese division of Modern Languages and Cultures, contacted recent graduates of Baylor’s Spanish program to ask them what they were up to now. What he found, as evidenced by the responses reprinted below, was that a Baylor Spanish degree can lead to jobs and opportunities with a wide variety of organizations across the globe.


Christian AlvarezChristian Alvarez (BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish, 2007; MA in Spanish, 2010): “I’m currently in my last semester as a part-time evening student at New York Law School. I work full time as a law clerk for an immigration law office in Manhattan’s financial district. Besides working on about 95 percent of our cases with the sole owner, I supervise our supporting staff and train our interns. I owe a large part of where I am to the education and training I received at Baylor while studying Spanish and Latin American Studies. It was actually through the financial sponsorship of both of these departments that I was able to travel to Manhattan to present a paper in Spanish about the evolution of online marketing techniques for the Spanish-speaking consumer. That trip and support alone opened my mind to a world of possibilities I had never considered before. I am eternally grateful and happy I had the support from all of the Modern Languages and Cultures department. I am confident that they transform lives and empower every student to pursue and achieve their dreams no matter what they may be. Saludos!”

Amanda BeckAmanda Beck (BA in University Scholars [Spanish and Religion], 2006; MA in Spanish, 2009): “I am at LeTourneau University as the Study Abroad Program coordinator. More importantly, I have a fantastic family including a professor husband and two beautiful children, Lily (22 months) and Brennan (2 months). Studying Spanish and taking part in the summer program in Madrid were two major things that contributed to me getting this job. It’s only day two on the job but I think it’s going to be awesome!”

Melissa CarruthMelissa Carruth (MA in Spanish, 2011): “I am at the University of Georgia as a PhD student, with an emphasis on contemporary Latin American literature. I received a $3,000 bonus recruitment award for signing on with the program (one of three students among all applicants to be offered this). I received a Teaching Assistantship, and am teaching two intermediate Spanish classes per semester. I’ve also interpreted for a local church for five years. As a random side note, I translated a document for a business to help resolve some conflict between a company (based in the USA) and one of its customers (based in Mexico). This translated message resulted in a $40,000 difference as a reasonable negotiation was reached in resolving that conflict. I understand that it meant a lot that the Mexican company received the very sensitive message in their own language and with an awareness of cultural and linguistic connotations within the letter’s discourse. Thanks so much for everything the oh-so-wonderful Baylor faculty taught me!”

Robert CatesRobert Cates (BA in Spanish and Political Science, 2008): “It may seem strange, but I still always come back to my skills when I was a Spanish major even now. I am an immigration attorney in Dallas with predominately Latin American clients that speak primarily Spanish. My previous studies as an undergrad are still very useful to me every day — from initial consultations with clients to writing letters and translating complex legal terms. So, I honestly believe that no matter what career a student chooses, Spanish can be an invaluable asset — I wouldn’t have this job otherwise!.”

Brieanne Nikkol Daniels (BA in Spanish, 2012): “I’m going through the process of becoming a police officer for Travis County in Texas. While I’m applying, I am working at a law firm and substitute teaching for Lake Travis ISD. My Spanish major has been huge in all of these.”

Spencer DavisSpencer Davis, (BA in Spanish, 2010): “I’m here in Austin, Texas. I just interviewed for a position managing a team of phone advisors for a Spanish language queue at Apple. Currently I am in a coaching role in ‘customer relations’ at Apple. I think the principal reason I was able to get an interview for a management position with only one-and-a-half years at the company was that I speak Spanish. Plenty of other people around me have management experience (and I don’t), yet they don’t speak Spanish.”

Captain Andy DeSantiagoCaptain Andy Desantiago (MA in Spanish, 2013): “I teach at West Point and work at the Department of Foreign Languages at the U.S. Military Academy. I’m currently working as a Spanish instructor, course director and academic advisor to the Class of 2014 Spanish language majors and minors. Due to the various communications and relation-building skills I’ve picked up in the Army and at Baylor, I’m also the head Semester-Abroad Program coordinator for our affiliates in Spain — Academia General Militar in Zaragoza, the Center of Modern Languages at the University of Granada and the University of Zaragoza. All in all it’s been a blast and I’ve enjoyed the multifaceted nature of my work — mostly because of the various hats I got to wear at Baylor in the Spanish program there, which included student, TA, tutor and teacher.”

Kaila AnneKaila Anne Faegerstrom (BA in Community Health with a Spanish minor, 2010): “I taught Spanish at the urban high school level for three years, and now I am in graduate school for public health at the University of Texas in the Houston medical center. I also work full time as a public health educator in immunizations for the Houston Department of Health, and often do community presentations in Spanish and create fliers and materials for the city in Spanish. (Bonus: I get a salary increase for doing this!!) I hope to work in the nonprofit public health world when I graduate, using my Spanish and working to eliminate health disparities here in the United States and possibly abroad.”

Ashley GriffinAshley Griffin (BA in Spanish Education, 2010): “I have fond memories of Baylor. After graduation, I began working at Tomball High School as a Spanish teacher. I do spend significant time translating documents and brochures for my district and for a nonprofit organization which is based in Dallas. With my church, I am the lead translator and co-coordinator for a youth mission trip to Honduras each summer in July. I still dream of literary translation, though it seems difficult to make a profit in that field. This December I will graduate with my master’s degree in educational counseling. My hope is to work with and advocate for ESL students and their parents in the school counseling setting. I am also considering continuing my education to get my licensed professional counselor (LPC) license. If I do this, I would hopefully open a practice geared toward Spanish-speaking families.”

Sally MartinezSally Martinez (BA in Spanish, 2010; MA in Spanish, 2012): “I live in Lubbock and work at Texas Tech Health Science Center. I am currently using my background in Spanish as the coordinator, translator and Spanish instructor for TTUHSC Pediatrics — and I love it! As coordinator, I apply all the skills I developed as a Baylor graduate student to succeed in this position. I’m so thankful for the training I had in the graduate program because it has opened countless doors for me — even in the healthcare field. This May I will also begin TTUHSC’s physician assistant program. I’m very excited to use my Spanish-speaking skills as a PA student serving the Hispanic communities near my hometown.”

Ross Natividad (BA in Spanish and International Studies, 2010; MA in Spanish, 2012; Fulbright Scholar, 2012-2013): “I’m currently in law school at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.”

Lila McDowell-CarlsenLila McDowell-Carlsen (BA in Spanish, 2003; MA in Spanish, 2005): “I received a PhD in Latin American literature from the University of California-Riverside in 2008. I now have my dream job as an assistant professor of Hispanic studies at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where I teach courses on Latin American culture and literature as well as intermediate and advanced Spanish. I am passionate about my teaching and research, and I hope to inspire my students the same way the Baylor faculty inspired me. I am forever indebted to the Baylor Spanish faculty for their world-class teaching and mentorship that prepared me for doctoral studies after Baylor. My thesis adviser, Dr. Guillermo García-Corales, was fundamental in helping me find my scholarly niche in the field of contemporary Latin American literary studies.”

Valerie O'BrienValerie O’Brien (BA in Spanish and International Studies, 2011): “I am currently a graduate teaching associate (GTA) in the Hispanic linguistics program at Ohio State University. I received my masters from Ohio State in May 2013, and am now in my first year of the PhD in the same program. Being a GTA consists of being the sole instructor of a Spanish class at OSU (I currently teach advanced grammar) and researching. The best part is that they pay me to do it! They pay my tuition and give me a reasonable stipend to live off of. My research consists of fieldwork in phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics, and I specialize in a dialect of Spanish spoken in West Africa. Some Baylor students and parents may be interested to hear that I have found fieldwork to be remarkably similar to mission work, in that by giving your subjects time and attention through things like sociolinguistic interviews, you are showing them that you care about them and value their contribution to society. You can also find creative and meaningful ways to give back to your subjects for their time and willingness to help you with your study, and this often results in lasting relationships that go beyond linguistics or academia. I have found linguistic fieldwork to be extremely fulfilling as a Christian, just by getting to share quality time with God’s people around the world.”

Sierra Rosie Phillips (BA in Spanish, 2012): “I’ve been working as an ESL teacher in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the past year. After graduating I took an intensive graduate teacher training course, and from there I just started knocking on doors. Currently I teach full time at a private language school in Oaxaca, and occasionally I do some official translations and tutoring on the side. Being a Spanish major can open up not just job opportunities, but for me it opened up a whole community of people whom I never would have been able to communicate with otherwise.”

Alicia Reyes BarrientezAlicia M. Reyes-Barriéntez (BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies, 2005; MA in Spanish, 2007): “My experience at Baylor, both undergraduate and graduate, fully prepared me for the doctoral program in which I am now enrolled. I am currently a PhD candidate in political science at Duke University and a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. I decided to apply to graduate school only after careful dialogue with and encouragement from many of my academic mentors at Baylor, primarily from the Spanish department, who encouraged me along that path. As a major in Spanish at Baylor, I honed my native language skills and most importantly, I learned to think critically about the world around me through the careful examination of literature. Writing a thesis as part of my Master’s program in Spanish afforded me the opportunities for original research and writing. To this day, I continue to have close relationships with my Spanish professors at Baylor, who at every step of my professional and personal careers have provided much-needed support and guidance. I am ever thankful for my experience in the Spanish department at Baylor University, which fostered my excitement for learning and confirmed my calling to teach.”

One Response

  1. Wes at |

    Great post! Nice to read student stories!


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