Voices of UCCS in the Department of Languages and Cultures

     UCCS’ Department of Languages and Cultures is growing with new grants and cybersecurity curriculum to support students’ learning. 

     Five languages and cultures students gave their thoughts on the department and what students can expect if they want to pursue an academic career in languages and cultures.  

Editor’s note: Interviews have been edited for clarity. 

Malthis Mege, a native French speaker, student and tutor in the department 

How does working with students give you skills that help you in your daily life?  

     It is communication and sharing my knowledge. I love sharing my knowledge, having people talking, having that connection. So it allows me to understand my environment more. There are different aspects, nuances and behaviors, and even if I’m mainly here to help them, as a tutor, they also help me.  

Why would you recommend students pursue an academic career in the department?  

     It can only widen your perspective on how people behave. If you’re narrow-minded you will not understand anyone, you won’t even understand yourself. First, you must understand yourself and your own language. I’m far from knowing all the French details and nuances, and so the more I learn about French, the more I learn about myself and others.  

Erica Cruz Duke, a Spanish major and academic assistant to the department  

What are your general thoughts about the department?  

     I think it’s like a family. There’s a lot of cohorts where people have taken the same classes with the same people every semester, so we go in as a group and everyone is here to support each other. We go in as a group and then we all get to say, ‘Let’s take this class together.’ It really is like a family.  

Annie Walch, a Spanish minor and president of the National Hispanic Honor Society  

What aspect of the department has had the biggest impact on you?  

     For me, the professors made a significant impact. If they didn’t really show as much care and dedication to their student’s learning, especially if you are learning a different language, starting from scratch, I don’t know if I would have continued. However, they really showed their interest in what we’re learning. So it’s really helped me and they have been my drive to continue.  

How have your experiences helped you in daily life and career life? 

     In the language lab, we’ll spend a lot of time talking about nitty gritty aspects. ‘What do you actually say on the streets,’ or ‘What does this phrase mean?’ When I learned the slang, it’s almost like a deeper level of understanding. Just learning a second language overall, it’s built my confidence up so much because I’ve had to learn how to fail gracefully.  

Christopher Alexander, a Spanish major and dedicated member of the department 

How have your experiences in the department helped you develop skills?  

     The way I see it, language is your lens to the world. You see the world differently if you speak a different language, and that helps you understand a lot of different perspectives and come up with a better one. If you speak a different language, that helps you a lot culture-wise, but also politically and ideologically, you can understand different perspectives and come up with a better one. 

Juan Pablo Maldonado, a Spanish tutor for the department 

What are your general thoughts about the department?  

     I already knew a language coming into the school. Starting my freshman year, I was offered a job here as a tutor, and I thought it was a great opportunity to get involved. I just love it, and I think this is a great place to be if you are interested in language and culture. 

For what reasons have you decided to dedicate so much time and effort to the department?  

     I think that everybody is very supportive. Not just the faculty, but even the languages center director. It’s just how close everybody is with each other, like working with each other all the time to make sure that students are getting what they need out of their classes.  

     To learn more about the Department of Languages and Cultures, visit their webpage here.  

The Department of Languages and Cultures is located in Dwire Hall. Photo by Lillian Davis.