In the essay below, Nikki Eggert – a recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Graduating Senior in Spanish award – discusses why she decided to study Spanish at ISU and how language study has transformed her life.
I have always been interested in language learning. You might say I am a “language geek”. I took Latin and German in high school and a year of German when I was at ISU in the early 1990s to earn my engineering degree. After I graduated and started to work for an automotive parts supplier, the company began to transition some of its factory work down to Mexico. In my assignment I worked with Mexican colleagues every day. Most of them spoke English very well, but in order to build a better working relationship with them, I decided to learn Spanish. They really appreciated my efforts to communicate in their language. I successfully completed a distance learning course, but then I left my job to stay home and raise a family, and eventually we moved back to central Iowa. When I considered what I wanted to do next, I knew that I wanted to include Spanish in my plans. I have always loved teaching and tutoring so I decided to return to ISU to become a Spanish teacher.
Learning Spanish at ISU has allowed me to meet some amazing professors (with whom I hope to stay in touch after graduation!) and it has opened up a new world for me. I have been able to travel to Spain and more fully experience the culture because I was able to speak the language and carry on conversations with the people. I hope to return in the near future because there is still so much that I want to see and do there.
Most importantly, my Spanish studies have enabled me to experience the joy of sharing another language with young people. I have just completed my student teaching experience, where my life has truly been touched by the students in my classes. The feeling I get from knowing that I have made a difference in their lives is incredible. It is so satisfying to be able to combine my love of language learning with my love of teaching. I plan to use my Spanish skills in a high school or a middle school, in order to inspire young people to study the language and encourage them to continue their studies beyond high school.