Language, Literature and Culture

Alumni Experiences

Kimberly Harris '07

My experience with Spanish at Clark has been nothing short of fantastic.  I have loved all my teachers as well as their enthusiasm for the language.  By having fun in class I sometimes forget that we are reviewing grammar, tenses, forms etc.  My understanding of the language has improved as well as my desire to perfect it.  We talk in class about our weekend, upcoming plans, and other gossip, yet it's all in Spanish and a great time.  I have really enjoyed my time spent in the Spanish classroom, and look forward to more of it in the future!

From Students of Hebrew, Fall 2005

One of the common reasons students give for taking a foreign language is that it "opens doors" for them in the future.

Now after three semesters of Hebrew, I have discovered the unique beauty of the simple constructions of the language that still create great poetry, even in ordinary conversation.

From what I have learned in my Hebrew class, it seems to me that the language department at Clark is very strong. The teachers are always well prepared and are excited about teaching.

Charlotte Brookover '08

I did not really know what I was getting into in the beginning of the semester, but now I am so glad I took this class, I have learned so much about what national imagination means and what it is in countries I rarely think of and how apparent it is in our own American society.

Joanna Lubkin '07

Hebrew is a language like no other—through it, I maintain a connection to my ancestors, making myself a link in a 3,000 year-old chain. And yet, it is a vibrant living thing; I can converse with a teenager in an ice cream shop in Tel-Aviv. I've taken 3 semesters of Hebrew at Clark and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity.

Alessandra Zimmerman '07

The ability to major in a field like Psychology as well as minor in my passion —Spanish—is very meaningful for me. I feel that I am very supported in any path I choose to pursue academically. There are also many professors willing to give their time to assist me.

Rebecca Michaels '06

C'est incroyable qu'il ne reste que trois mois pour moi ici. Tu as eu raison, une année est presque nécessaire pour vraiment améliorer la langue et pour aussi commencer a connaître la culture. C'est clair que cette année sera un expérience que je n'oublierai jamais.

Fauna Shaw '06

France has been excellent! ... Again, thanks for all you've done for us. I really love this program and after visiting the other students in London, I now realize how lucky we are to have such an organized program that takes us on trips and really encourages our French. I don't want to leave ever!!

Barbara Zerillo '06

Choosing Clark was the best decision that I ever made. The diverse student body and faculty fueled my desire to learn about other cultures and experience them first hand. I traveled with a group of Clarkies to Nicaragua during spring break of my freshman year and decided that I wanted to learn Spanish. My junior year I was able to focus on my new passion by spending a semester abroad in Spain living with a family and studying. The following semester I studied Psychology, French & Spanish at the University of Stirling, Scotland and was able to immerse myself in another foreign culture. Living and traveling in Europe for a year has taught me more about the world then any class ever could. It is impossible to learn a foreign language and culture without actually living and immersing yourself in that world.

Márcia Posada Elyseu '03

"I live in Germany at the moment and I wanted to keep the German language "fresh" in my mind. I was really pleased when I found out that that was possible to do here at Clark, in the Foreign Languages Department. My professor is a native speaker, which enables me to improve both my grammatical and pronunciation skills."

Anelia Vencova Delcheva '02

"I am from Bulgaria and this is my second year at Clark University. I minor in German language and major in physics and mathematics. I am also doing a concentration in law, since I am planning to continue my education in a law school and becoming a patent lawyer. I strongly believe that Clark can give you anything you want and desire in the realm of your personal enrichment, as long as you set clear goals and pursue their realization. I would like to sincerely thank my professors, family and friends who have helped me in becoming part of Clark's community."

Julie Feeney '00

"Until my junior year I was an English major, with a great fear of planes. I am graduating as a Spanish major (still with an unfortunate fear of planes) with a love of learning about other cultures. Spanish at Clark is more than just a major; it is a life-shaping experience. After majoring in Spanish you are prepared to think of yourself as a member of a global community that actively contributes to society and learns from it as well. After studying abroad you cannot help to re-evaluate who you thought you were, who you are now, and who you would like to be. I feel that I am very lucky to be graduating from a challenging department whose faculty and staff care so much about their students that they create the feeling of family this department is known for. One further example of how impressive a Spanish major is, is that it can be applied to any field. After majoring in Spanish, I am considering a career in journalism, teaching Spanish, or teaching English as a Second Language. My idea of what I would like to do is much more versatile now and I also feel that I am more than prepared for anything I might wish to do. Thanks to Spanish language and literature, I can write well, think critically and listen carefully.

Rebecca Melnick '00

"I have wanted to take on the Spanish language for a long time. It was not until coming to Clark that I knew I could do it. With support from the dedicated and enthusiastic professors in the Foreign Languages Department, I have worked hard to develop my skills and proficiency. Early on, my major advisor also encouraged me greatly, understanding my desire to learn Spanish. She told me to decide that I would tackle the language, concentrate on it… and do it! She also recommended that I go to Madrid to study, which until that point I hadn't thought of doing. I've gone to study in Spain, taken advantage of Clark's small classes and excellent professors in the Spanish Department, and I will graduate with a degree in Spanish and great confidence in my bilingual capabilities."

Almaisa Yanoff '00

"Going to France and attending the International Center of French Studies has been an unforgettable experience. It has helped me grow not only as a student, but as an individual as well. From complex French grammar to wine tasting in the vineyards, I brought all this new cultural insight right back here to the University where I have integrated it into the Clark community."

Carol Strauss Sotirouplous '72

Carol (B.A. German, 1972; M.A. Comparative Literature 1975; Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of Connecticut, 2001) brings us up-to-date on her scholarly and teaching activities. Carol was one of the first generation of students to complete our B.A./M.A. program in Comparative Literature. After her doctoral studies, punctuated by raising three sons, she went on to a full-time teaching position at Northern Michigan University at Marquette, where she offers innovative interactive classes in German language and literature and comparative literature courses on themes related to her major research area: 18th- and early 19th-century European women writers and women's education.

Besides presenting her research at scholarly meetings and in numerous published articles, Carol has also authored a well-received scholarly book, Early Feminist and Education Debates: England, France, Germany, 1760-1810. (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007). This ambitious and very timely study "examines the ways late 18th- and early 19th-century European educational reformists negotiated transnational political and social obstacles to promote new thinking about women's nature, role, and educational needs. They borrowed from strategies associated with fictional narratives of education to subvert the ideology of [women's] training for domesticity. In particular, many invoked the construct of the 'maternal educator' adapting and reshaping it to stake their claim for women's advanced education."

Carol hopes readers of her book will gain a broader knowledge about educational reformists who have been forgotten over time—the 'great-grandmothers' and 'great-grandfathers' of the women's movement and the ways political events can impact education policies.

Brittany Pehl Danielson '07

For the past two years Brittany Pehl Danielson '07 has served as Spanish Editor/Junior Project Manager for Worcester-based Victory Productions. She writes: "As an editor and junior project manager at this small bilingual educational publishing firm, I was responsible for the coordination, tracking and execution of all phases of projects from manuscripting, translation and localization through to the final pass of editing. This requires thorough knowledge of the editorial process and the ability to organize and interface with editorial leads, translators in South Amer-ica, outside editors, clients, vendors and upper management. I'm hoping to take what I've learned in publishing, along with my background in Spanish language and culture and apply them to a graduate program of study in journalism."

Deanna Marcoux '98

"I am currently teaching Spanish at Silver Lake Regional Jr. High School in Kingston, MA. This is my second year teaching; last year I taught at Marston Mills Middle School on Cape Cod. I am having a wonderful time. I am happy to say that I love my work. The Foreign Languages Department at Clark University was instrumental in deepening my love for the Spanish language and in teaching me how to read, write and speak in Spanish. I am very grateful to everyone."

Jennifer Reinhardt '97

"The opportunity to live and study in Trier was not only a great enhancement to my German major and liberal arts education at Clark University, but served as a rich life experience on which I will always look back with pride. Living abroad allowed me not only to develop my German-speaking skills, but also to put other areas of my education into context: in contrast to how 'new' our country is, Trier (and Europe in general) has a living and breathing culture and history which dates back to Roman times.

My horizons have been irrevocably broadened and a precedent set for my post-college life: I've been back to Europe twice since my return from Trier and am more engaged and informed about European history and current events. The friendships I forged during that year are strong despite the distance that now separates us.

Though I remained an outsider in that I still held a US passport, during my year (Aug 95-Aug 96) in Trier, I was able to experience Germany and Europe by seeing things through 'their' eyes, as my new friends, acquaintances, and professors welcomed me into their world." 

Juan Rojo '97

"I am currently a graduate student at Cornell University. I received my M.A. from Emory University in Atlanta and now I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Spanish. I don't think I would have ended up in this field if it were not for my experience at Clark. Not only did I find my career there with the help of the Spanish faculty, but that is also where I met my wife."

Natalya Stolova '96

"I am currently a 4th-year graduate student in Romance Philology at the University of Pennsylvania. This program's focus is the study of the languages that descended from Latin and of their literary histories. My studies as a Spanish major undergraduate at Clark helped to further my interest in the Romance languages in general and Spanish in particular. Both foreign language and literature classes were interesting and thought provoking. I also really appreciated the personal attention that professors gave to their students."

Zerxes Spencer '95

Zerxes earned his M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago. He now works at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC, as associate editor of its Journal of Democracy, an international affairs quarterly that focuses on the theory of practice of democracy around the world. "For four years Clark was home. And for each of those years, Estabrook Hall was my home-within-that-home. My French professors taught me a love for life and language that sustains me to this day. I am honored to be a part of their family."

Ida Colon '89

"Upon graduating from Clark University, I attended law school and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1992. I have been practicing law in the financial services industry since then. Today, I am Counsel for Aetna Financial Services. My areas of practice include employee benefits plans, securities law, state insurance law, etc. When I am not working, I enjoy traveling, reading, horseback riding, off road cycling, inline skating and volunteering.

CU's Foreign Languages Department really helped me to learn a great deal about Spanish literature and the art of active reading. With instruction from the Spanish faculty I really learned to appreciate the beauty and power of works written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez, Elena Poniatowska, Jorge Luis Borges, Mariano Azuela, Federico García Lorca--and the list goes on...

I really am quite indebted to my Spanish adviser who pushed me (and I do mean pushed) to study abroad at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain. The trip was a real turning point not only academically but also personally. Thanks, professor, for pushing me in the right direction!"

Sharon (Schatzberg) Hormby '76

"I arrived at Clark a psychology major (surprise!), with advanced standing in French. I quickly realized there was more to language than conjugating verbs. Two highlights from my Clark education are my Junior Year studies in France and, in my Senior year, directing the play "The Visit," by Durrenmatt in the original German as part of a foreign language theater festival. After graduating, I spent a year in Belgium on a Fulbright Fellowship improving my language competency and researching Belgian literature and theater. Upon returning to the USA, I taught French at the high school level, but needed more to keep me intellectually stimulated. I found that there were similarities between human and computer languages, and made the transition to a technical field. However, the critical thinking skills I learned at Clark enabled me to move very quickly into management positions.

After five years in the work force, I returned to school to earn an MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in International Marketing. I spent ten years in high technology marketing on an international scale, occasionally giving professional presentations in French and frequently breaking the ice with a phrase or two in other languages. I now work for a large multi-national corporation in a position that bridges business and technology strategy, where my international perspective is of great value. The lessons I learned as a Clark undergraduate stand out as a powerful foundation: the ability to analyze concepts, to formulate and articulate my own opinions, and the ability to structure my thinking so that others can follow and support the strategies I develop. The comfort I have in speaking, writing, persuading and organizing concepts - so necessary in my professional career - was initially acquired in Clark's courses such as theater arts, foreign literature and language."