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Mercy Spanish Majors Finding Success in Graduate School

Spanish language students

*Photo taken prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Graduates of Mercy College’s undergraduate Spanish program in the School of Liberal Arts are finding noteworthy success in graduate school. With approximately 20 students majoring in Spanish and 20 students minoring in Spanish, Mercy’s Spanish program is one of the largest in the area. “Mercy College is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and now we're becoming leaders in Spanish language studies,” said Alan Hartman, D.M.L, director of Mercy College’s Modern Foreign Languages Program.

For example, Nerisha Padilla Cruz ’18 received full funding to pursue a Ph.D. at SUNY Albany after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Mercy, and Paola Monteros-Freeman ’15 received full funding to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia after earning her master’s in Hispanic studies from Virginia Tech. Dianey Lujan ’19 and Fernando Santos ’19 both received full funding to pursue master’s degrees in Spanish at the University of Connecticut and the University of Kansas respectively. Two other alumni — Dennis Di Iorio ’16 and Greilyn Justo Soto ’14 — recently earned master’s degrees from Middlebury College, which Hartman described as one of America’s premier language schools. Other alumni are pursuing related graduate programs, such as Elsa de la Rosa Díaz ’18 who started Mercy’s master’s program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) this fall. Many others have decided to return to teach Spanish at Mercy as adjunct instructors.

Hartman explained that when he first came to Mercy in 2008, few Mercy Spanish majors were continuing to graduate studies in Spanish. After much encouragement, the first Mercy Spanish majors applied and were accepted to well-known graduate schools such as Middlebury College. At that point, other Spanish majors began to consider graduate school as a logical next step, Hartman said. Since then, students have been much more interested in pursuing graduate study.

The Spanish program has also evolved in the past 12 years. There are more faculty members, namely Professor Elise Arnold-Levene, Ph.D., and lecturer Luis Garcia, Ph.D. in addition to adjunct instructors. Hartman has created internships with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Society of America, which help students gain real world experience in using their Spanish language skills. In addition, he has also worked to enhance the sense of community within the Spanish program and create a group of engaged alumni. As Mercy Spanish majors receive funding to continue their studies at the many respected graduate programs around the country, it is evident Mercy’s instruction and Hartman’s efforts are working very well indeed.