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Real-world application of Spanish skills translates to BW student success

From publishing in a Spanish-language newspaper to presenting at a major conference, BW students put their Español to work.

Since practice makes perfect in mastering a second language, Baldwin Wallace University faculty are hard at work establishing new community connections and finding opportunities for students to flex their Spanish-language muscles.

Now, three students have works accepted for publication in La Mega Nota, a regional Spanish-language newspaper, while another was chosen to present faculty-mentored research in Spanish at a national conference.

Spanish-language reporting

Spanish professor Matt Feinberg and Mia Vandersommen study an issue of La Mega Nota.

Spanish professor Matt Feinberg (left) and Mia Vandersommen '26 (right) study an issue of La Mega Nota.

Eager to find applied experiences for his students, Dr. Matthew Feinberg first connected with the Spanish-language newspaper published by La Mega Media at a 2023 networking event and ended up incorporating a tailored writing assignment into a spring 2024 course.

The work of three BW students has been or will be published by the outlet, which is distributed in Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

  • Mia Vandersommen '26, a Spanish and biology double major, wrote an essay on "Toxic Algae and Risks Flourishing in Lake Erie," which was published in the May 1 edition of the magazine (page 24). "Her essay is remarkable in part because she was really able to leverage her microbiology coursework into this article and the course — something we try to encourage by design in the Spanish major and in individual classes," noted Feinberg. 

  • Exchange student Emmannuelle Geremy authored a piece on "The Impact of Intersectionality on the Mental Health of African-American Transgender Youth," which was published in the June edition (page 6).

  • Maeve Woehrman '24, who recently graduated with a BA in music and a BS in engineering, wrote about "Learning in the Age of Artificial Intelligence," which was accepted to appear in a future issue.

Feinberg is excited to share, "The editor is eager to build on this collaboration in coming semesters. I believe this opportunity presents great potential for students not only in future sections of SPN 290 'Speaking and Writing in Spanish II,' but a variety of other courses."

Presentation prowess

BW Spanish professor Karen Barahona (left) and Ella Barth ’25 (right)

Conference co-presenters BW Spanish professor Karen Barahona (left) and Ella Barth '25 (right)

In April, a BW undergraduate was invited to present research in Spanish at a graduate-level national conference.

This opportunity arose from Dr. Karen Barahona's course titled "Women in Olive Green: Historical Subjects in Nations' Guerilla Armies," which involved students in research collaborations.

"As part of the coursework, students wrote short literary analyses on two novels for a total of 8-10 pages in Spanish," Barahona explains. "I selected the two best papers and created a panel for an academic conference."

Ella Barth '25 was accepted to present on the panel at the 2024 Southeast Coastal Conference on Languages and Literatures (page 5).

According to the presentation abstract, the research explored literary representations of "the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and the Civil War in El Salvador" by women authors looking to "redefine their search for equality from a national and a personal perspective."

The novels emerging from that time served as fictionalized testimonies of women's participation in the guerrilla armies and their search for political involvement during the political unrest of the period.

Following the presentation, Barahona reports that Barth was invited to apply for graduate school at Georgia Southern. But first, she is continuing to burnish her language experience by studying abroad in a summer service-learning project in Costa Rica.

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