My decision to study Hispanic Studies here at the college was a gradual one. Originally a History major, over the course of my first year and a half here included a few Hispanic Studies courses I took with the intent of simply maintaining and improving my Spanish language skills, however I slowly found myself falling in love with the culture, language and history of the pre-Colombian and Hispanic worlds. As I took more and more classes it went from an interest, to a minor and finally I decided that there was no way I could truly enjoy studying or working in any other field in any comparable way.
The Hispanic Studies program here at the college has expanded my mind in unimaginable ways, and has offered me experiences that before I would have thought impossible. I had the opportunities to study and live in Lima, Peru for nearly six months, where I was able to travel extensively and see entire worlds that otherwise I only could have read about, to volunteer teaching English to immigrants, and to examine artifacts and history most people only see in books. I’ve met some of the most interesting, kind and motivated people in the world, from fellow students and friends, to professionals practicing the kinds of things I hope to also do someday, to foreign nationals a home and abroad who have opened my mind and shown me a new way of looking at the world around me. And of course, I never would have found this path without the guidance of all the professors here in the department, always encouraging and challenging me to look at and think of everything I experience new ways. Studying Hispanic Studies has given me more than just a degree, but a base of knowledge, a new way of thinking, and the ability to apply these things to the world I see around me.
It is this new perspective that I am excited to take with me and utilize in my future with the United States Navy after graduation, where it is my hope to work closely with Latin American states. I hope that I can project this new-found attitude to the would, and use my position to take part in and try to improve in any way possible not only relations between the Hispanic world and the United States of America, but also to improve the lives and perspectives of as many individuals as possible.
Zachary RF. Hanson