Samantha Phillips, a senior majoring in Psychology and pursuing a double minor in Spanish and Education, began studying Spanish when she was ten years old, and knew when she arrived at U-M that she wanted to continue her study of the language.
“I absolutely love learning Spanish,” Samantha said. “Having that ability to communicate with other people has also really increased my view of the world.”
One of Samantha’s favorite Spanish classes has been Professor Teresa Satterfield’s Spanish 373: Bilingualism in the Spanish-Speaking World course. She said she enjoyed the linguistic focus of the course and learning more about bilingualism.
“It definitely aligned a lot with my Psych major so I really enjoyed that course,” Samantha noted.
Samantha said Spanish 289: Introduction to Translation, taught by Dennis Pollard, was another favorite class of hers. In this class, she gained valuable experience translating from English to Spanish, and said she felt like she was “always learning”.
Samantha applied her Spanish speaking and translating skills through interning and volunteering in a local elementary school this past year. This experience was part of her Education for Empowerment minor coursework. She assisted students with a variety of tasks, including translating lessons in real time from English to Spanish for students whose primary language was Spanish. She also often served as a translator on the playground at recess time, in order to help students communicate with one another.
Working with the students was “an amazing experience,” she said. “It is just so wonderful to see that growth.”
Samantha said she formed a strong working relationship with the classroom teacher as well, who mentored her work and provided encouragement along the way.
“I could talk about my experience for hours,” she continued. “I think I’m going to go back and volunteer with the teacher again this upcoming year.”
This summer, Samantha is completing an internship in human resources at an employment staffing company, where she regularly speaks Spanish with job-seeking clients and with coworkers.
“I have a lot of people come in who are mainly Spanish speakers, and who only speak Spanish, and it is really nice because [even though] I don’t have all the information to give someone a job, since I’m an intern, I’ve been able to talk to a lot of different people,” she said.
“Having those conversations and creating those relationships with people, I’ve really enjoyed, and I really enjoy that I get to utilize my Spanish as well,” Samantha remarked. “I’m learning a lot as I go and I’m expanding my skill set.”
In the past, Samantha has volunteered with a nonprofit organization called Neighbors Link, where she assisted native Spanish speakers who were seeking to learn English.
After her upcoming graduation, Samantha wants to travel to Spain and she is considering pursuing a career in the human resources field.
“I really want to do something that helps people; I know that for sure,” she said.
Samantha recommends that students considering pursuing a Spanish major or minor do so.
“I would definitely encourage doing it. There are so many benefits, [including] psychological benefits,” she said. The ability to learn a new language continues to improve those neural pathways in your brain, and in a lot of the Spanish classes I’ve taken, I’m learning about things in new ways that I’ve never thought about before, such as humanism, and the books we read were just completely different than anything I’d ever read.”