Senior Sarah Yde was sitting in the biology library when she got a text from Spanish professor Israel Herrera informing her she was selected for the 2016 Indiana Outstanding College Student of Spanish/Portuguese Award.
Yde is a double major in biology and Spanish who has spent time working on campus with Hispanic culture and traveled abroad. She was selected along with five other IU seniors Lucy Brown, Theresa Spech, Bridget Dotson and Jayme Gerring.
The recipients were honored at a ceremony Nov. 3 with students from University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, DePauw University, Valparaiso University and Butler University.
Award winners are required to have a 3.7 GPA, community service experience, to have spent time abroad and have a major in Spanish or Portuguese.
“Bilingualism is a really important way to connect with different types of people,” Yde said. “In a functioning society it’s important to be bilingual. In most countries in Europe, people are required to speak English to get a job.”
At IU, Yde founded Grupo Ñ, a club dedicated to exploring Spanish and Latin American culture. Yde is also a part of Ritmos Latinos, a salsa club that has weekly salsa lessons. Her studies in Seville, Spain, were also been an influential part of her Spanish career. “It was my first real immersive international experience,” Yde said. “I learned so much more and had a breakthrough with my fluency. There is so much to learn from being somewhere else, using the language and learning its context.”
Theresa Spech, another award recipient, studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she participated in a health studies program where she did observations and took a medical class in Spanish.
“I absolutely love the fact that language opens doors to be able to communicate,” Spech said.
Spech has been involved with the Spanish theater group Teatro Vida at IU in acting and directing capacities. She also has experience volunteering as an interpreter for a food pantry and crisis center.
Students who receive the award must also plan to use Spanish or Portuguese in their future careers.
Both of these recipients want to pursue a higher education and use Spanish with their jobs.
While studying abroad in Chile, Spech noticed the places where she observed were incredibly understaffed.
She said she saw a need for people equippedwith Spanish and medical skills.
With a double major in biochemistry and Spanish, Spech wants to attend medical school and use Spanish within the community to serve populations that need Spanish translation.
Yde said she plans to return to Seville to teach English and get her Ph.D in molecular biology. She wants to be a professor and would like to have bilingual abilities in her classroom.
“Spanish is really a pretty global language,” Yde said. “There are so many different cultures associated with it.”