Kathleen O’Connell (Spanish)
I am currently working as a Placement Specialist at LASPAU: Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas, which is a non-profit affiliated with Harvard University. I work with scholarship grantees from Latin America to help them find the best academic and financial fit and place them at U.S. universities, and I use my Spanish in this position on a daily basis. I also work part-time as a freelance translator and proofreader for a Peruvian translation agency, where I worked on a variety of finance, legal, and government-related documents. And, when I have free time, I also volunteer as a translator for Kiva.
I think that Geneseo and particularly the Department of Languages and Literatures provided me with the tools needed to succeed in my career. As a Geneseo student, I pursued a double major in Spanish and International Relations, as well as a minor in Latin American Studies. I was a member of the Sigma Delta Pi honor society and was president of the Phi Sigma Iota honor society. I also had the opportunity to participate in a direct immersion study abroad program at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (UFSQ) through SUNY. Then, as a senior, I spent two months in Nicaragua during the pilot phase of what is now the Service Learning Program in El Sauce. These experiences, coupled with my job as a student at the International Student Services Office at Geneseo, led me to pursue a career in international higher education, focusing on Latin America. Since graduating, I have worked with international students, U.S. study abroad students, and have taught English abroad and rated English proficiency exams.
I think that there is a stereotype that a degree in a second language isn’t useful or that it is only relevant if you want to be a language teacher, but this is a large misconception, especially given that we are living in an increasingly interconnected world. My brother has even told me that the one thing that he wishes he had done was continue with Spanish after high school, presumably because he has come to realize the benefit of knowing a second language since he entered the job market. In my case, I started at Geneseo with the intention of being a high school Spanish teacher, but found along the way that there are many other ways to incorporate Spanish into your career, and I have found working in international higher education to be the best fit for me.
To contact Kathleen, email her at email@example.com