Degree: M.A. in Spanish, Graduate Certificate of Translation (Spanish>English, English>Spanish) (Spring 2014)
Current Job: Graduate Teaching Assistant and Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Modern and Classical Languages; Student Athlete Tutor, Panther Academic Support Services, Georgia State University.
What do you do on an average day?
As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, I teach two lower-level Spanish classes per semester totaling approximately 60 students. I spend my days preparing lessons, developing assessments, grading, creating communicative in-class activities and assigning online homework. I also advise my students in my office or via email because their questions can come at any time of day or night. Teaching is a full-time job! Lastly, as a tutor, I meet weekly with students one-on-one to review class material and further develop their understanding of the subject matter. I can also be found listening to Latin music, cooking or cleaning my apartment after hours.
Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree?
After working for two years as a translator upon completing my undergraduate, I was tired of the status quo and knew that without furthering my education, I would not be able to obtain the type of job I wanted. I have loved Spanish since I began studying it in the seventh grade and had already earned my BA in Spanish, a master’s degree seemed like the natural next step. I knew that by earning an MA, I would be able to teach Spanish in postsecondary institutions and would most likely find an area of special interest as well. Furthermore, I wanted to hone my translation skills in the hopes of starting a strong freelance career as a translator after graduation.
How do you plan to use your MA in Spanish the future?
With my teaching, tutoring and research experience, I plan on continuing as a Spanish professor, both at the postsecondary level and as a freelance tutor. Also, this degree, along with the Graduate Certificate of Translation, will help me obtain translation work in the future. Someday, I would like to become involved in study abroad coordination in Latin America or perhaps earn a PhD in linguistics because my research skills have definitely improved during my MA studies.
What is the best part of being a graduate student?
I am constantly challenged and offered various courses of different specialties, whether literature, linguistics or pedagogy, all which serve to broaden my knowledge of the Spanish language. Also, as Graduate Teaching Assistants, we are given great responsibility but also a good support system from faculty as well as from fellow GTAs. We are encouraged to attend and present at conferences in order to gain presentational and research experience for the future. It is a lot of work but very gratifying; it shows you what you are made of and inspires you to keep pushing toward higher goals, both professionally and educationally.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned in your program?
The Spanish language has been in the United States longer than English, given the Spanish arrived in Florida before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. In fact, there are still isolated communities of native Spanish-speakers in the Southwest dating back to the time when it was part of Mexico. These speakers speak Spanish with more archaic, rustic structures and vocabulary.
Laura is a student in the MA in Spanish and the Graduate Certificate of Translation programs at Georgia State University, and is set to graduate in May 2014. During her time as a graduate student, Laura has worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, teaching two lower-level division Spanish classes per semester, a Graduate Research Assistant and Graduate Lab Assistant in the Language Acquisition Resource Center at GSU. In 2013, she earned the Certificate of Excellence in College Teaching award from the Center for Instructional Innovation at GSU. Prior to coming to GSU, she worked for over two years as Senior Translator at the Latin American Association, a non-profit organization in Atlanta. Before that, she earned a BA in Modern Language and Culture (Spanish) with a Minor in Latin American Studies at Kennesaw State University in 2009. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and was also awarded the prestigious Global Engagement Certification with Distinction in honor of her dedication to global learning and study abroad, given that in 2008, she spent a semester abroad at the Universidad de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico, focusing on Spanish language studies and an array of Mexican cultural topics. Laura has also spent time in Honduras and Ecuador and would love to someday live and work in South America.