Spanish Graduate Studies offers students the chance to teach
While a lot of current and future Shockers are learning more about the world-class education they can get at Wichita State University, not as many are aware of the opportunities for advanced degrees available to them.
Aaron Hoffman came to Wichita State specifically for graduate school, and he's working to complete his Master of Arts in Spanish degree. Hoffman is enrolled in the Graduate Studies program in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, and was one of nine chosen for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) position in the Spanish language program.
WSU’s Spanish program is designed to make people more marketable. An advanced degree in Spanish creates the opportunity to teach at a higher level or begin to hone skills in translation and interpretation, two new programs the department is creating as part of its strategic plan to offer more programs for professionals.
'Wichita State was really the best'
Hoffman, a native of Parsons, Kan., earned his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Mid-America Nazarene University in May 2011. An advanced degree was always part of his career plans, and for that Hoffman turned to Wichita State. He says WSU had everything he wanted: an outstanding language program, an ideal location and opportunities to teach.
“I looked at all the local schools,” he said. “I even checked out schools in New York, but Wichita State was really the best. Here, I get an experience that is culturally and academically advantageous over other universities.”
Like many students, Hoffman started learning Spanish in high school. Also like many students, he didn’t necessarily start out being very good at it.
“It was kind of hard, but I kept at it,” he said. “I learned that I retain the language better than most people – but it’s not about how fast you pick it up. You have to work at it.”
According to Hoffman, his early struggle to learn Spanish helps him relate to his students as a GTA. This semester, he’s teaching two units of Spanish 111, and in doing so he’s realizing a career goal.
“I knew studying Spanish was something I wanted to do in some aspect for the rest of my life,” Hoffman said, “and that I wanted to teach it to others. Teachers impact the world.”
Learning Spanish has provided Hoffman with unique opportunities, including two trips to Ecuador to study abroad, and his passion for the language has been noticed.
“Aaron has a great love for Spanish,” said Terilyn Abbott, Spanish language director, “and he’s learning to teach. He’s willing to learn, and this is a great opportunity for him.”
Abbott also came to Wichita State for the Spanish Graduate Studies program. She had family stationed at McConnell Air Force Base at the time she was looking into grad programs, and something about WSU caught her eye.
“When I got on the wichita.edu website, I saw some things that looked kind of awesome,” said Abbott. “Coming from my previous school, the Spanish program there is huge and I was one of many. Wichita State offered the opportunity to really get to know my professors, to learn and work one-on-one with them, to have that opportunity for them to know me and be involved in my education personally.”
Best of all, Abbott said, it gave her the opportunity to teach.
“That’s one of the really great things about Wichita State’s Spanish graduate program,” she said, “that we offer the opportunity to become teaching assistants. We don’t just have them grade papers, but we teach them how to teach. They get to really use the language they love, and I think that is priceless.”