Jack Wisneski was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Agnes Nicolini Vincenti Award for an Outstanding Thesis in RLL. This award is given to the RLL student with the most outstanding Honor’s Thesis in the past academic year. It was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of Natline V. Scott in 1989.
Each year we ask the recipient of the Vincenti Award to write a bit about themselves and the role that their language studies have played in their lives and how they hope to use that knowledge in the future.
"I attended pre-school in a small town north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. When it came time for me to begin kindergarten, my parents moved me to a new school district. I was devastated, as I would be leaving all of my friends behind. However, that move to Rockford public schools was one of the best things my parents could have ever done for me, as it allowed me to be a part of a brand new program in the district: Spanish Immersion (SI). My mother, Marceline, and my father, Robert, always had the philosophy of stimulating as many areas of their children’s brains as possible. Because of this, they pushed myself and my brother, Evan, into myriad activities like chess, puzzle-solving, sports, piano, and yes, Spanish Immersion. My parents had the foresight to see the value of this kind of education and are surely the biggest reason for why I ended up studying Spanish and pre-med here at the University of Michigan. From the first day in those classes where we learned math, science, geography, and anything else you can think of exclusively in Spanish, I felt at home.
It didn't take me long to meet others who felt the same way about the Spanish language. The first day of kindergarten, I met Noah Stallworth, who has been my brother ever since and my roommate all three years I have been at this college. Between the support of my parents and my brothers, who also pursued Spanish Immersion and helped me to constantly hone my skills, I was able to immerse myself in Spanish, and I slowly began to formulate goals for my academic career that still drive me today: get into a good college, graduate, get into a good medical school, and become a physician. So far I have checked two of those off the list, and hopefully the other two are soon to follow.
But returning to my background, I had a series of tremendous Spanish teachers before I even came to college that had a huge impact on me. Mrs. Nylan, Mrs. Egner, Sr. Ramos, Sra. Chuchoque, Sr. Leon, Sr. Bakita and Sra. Clements were just a few of the unbelievable educators who continually reinforced the passion I was developing for my second language. Once I found myself at the University of Michigan as a Spanish major, the faculty continued to support me in ways that allowed me to develop even further as a student and a thinker. I would like to give a special thanks to Maria Dorantes, Javier Sanjines, Mar Freire Hermida, and all of the other Spanish professors whom I have had along that way that have worked with me tirelessly throughout my time at this university.
During the Spring of 2021, my phenomenal advisor, Jeff Winters, urged me to look into writing a senior thesis that would allow me to connect my Spanish major with my pre-med classes in a more meaningful way. I pestered professor Sanjines until he agreed to serve as my thesis advisor. As far as I knew, he had no background in healthcare or health sciences, but he is one of the most intelligent and gifted writers I had ever met, having published books like Embers of the Past: Essays in Times of Decolonization, and Mestizaje upside-down, I knew I would be in great hands. Together, with the help of professor Hermida, we worked meticulously on researching, writing, deleting entire pages, and rewriting what would become our final thesis: "Ruido y barreras lingüísticas en la atención médica para personas hispanohablantes" (Noise and Language Barriers in Healthcare for Spanish Speakers). In this thesis, we explored why Spanish-speaking patients in the United States are subjected to inferior healthcare even when linguistic services are available; a topic that is growing ever more important in our society today with the rapid growth of the Hispanic American population.
Completing this project, and receiving the Agnes Nicolini Vincenti Award for an Outstanding Honors Thesis has been a blessing. To me, this award is as much about the Spanish faculty at the University of Michigan—especially professor Sanjines, professor Satterfield, and professor Hermida—and my family, as it is about myself. The people I mentioned are the ones who have elevated and supported me to the point where I was able to complete this project.
Thank you once again to our Father, my parents, my brothers, professor Sanjines, my thesis committee, all of the Spanish educators I have had, Roy and Misty Stallworth, Alissa, Doug, and Kathy Butts, Tina Shutich, Jackie Decker, Susan Clements and everyone else who has consistently uplifted me. Consider this an honor to all of you and the light you have shone on me. Thank you to the entire Romance Languages and Literature department. Blessings and joy to all of you."