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Department ofModern Languages and Literatures


Congratulations Modern Languages and Literatures Class of 2020!

A special note from the chair, Award winners, Phi Sigma Iota Inductees and thoughts, plans, and memories from graduates

A note from the Chair…

Dear Graduates,

While we are saddened that we cannot be together to celebrate your remarkable accomplishments, it gives us great comfort to know that you are well-equipped to confront this complex world we live in. Your ability to adjust to sudden change, finish your courses and complete your degree requirements, despite the incredible disruptions caused by this global pandemic, demonstrates your resilience and fortitude. None of us could have imagined that your college experience would end this way, but we can certainly imagine how you will not only persevere, but learn from this extraordinary challenge,

On behalf of the department of Modern languages and Literatures, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations and wish you all continued success.

--Jimia Boutouba


We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our students who have received the following awards:

SCU FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR! – Senior Mariana Perera Wins Fulbright Scholarship - Political Science, Spanish, and Communication major will study disability rights policy in Brazil.

Mariana Perera ’20, will be using her Fulbright fellowship to study disability rights policy in Brazil, which she says is a good proxy for the strength of a society’s social structure and democracy.

“It’s a very good test for a government to see whether or not they are providing for all of the citizens, whether or not those citizens can advocate for themselves,” she said…. Read More



FRENCH: Mia Hope
“During her time at SCU, Mia Hope pursued a double Major in English and French as well as a Minor in Biology. From the very beginning, Mia demonstrated a strong interest in exploring different cultures and widening her perspective on the world. In a recent email, Mia, states: "Of the courses I took, I always found my french classes to be the most rewarding- I loved being able to communicate in another language and learn about an entirely different culture. When I studied abroad in Paris in a full french immersion program, I discovered that my ability to speak french allowed me to become friends with locals and therefore fully experience french culture." Upon returning from abroad, she volunteered to intern with the Friends of African Village Libraries, a non-profit organization that developed libraries in Burkina Faso. This opportunity allowed Mia to utilize her french skills in a business environment, and helped shape her future plans.”

ITALIAN: Sydney Altobell
“During her four years at SCU Sydney pursued studies in the fields of both STEM and humanities, graduating with a double major in Computer Science and Italian Studies. She demonstrated great passion for Italian, both in developing language skills and cultural understanding.  She engaged in her learning with motivation and in terms of acquired proficiency, she is truly a "success story".  In the cultural courses that she took both in Italian and English she proved to be an analytical thinker and an accomplished writer. Her approach to Italian Studies was inquisitive and reflective. The fact that after she completed all her major requirements she decided to take an extra UD course in Italian, shows her true dedication. Sydney will pursue a career as software engineer, yet, while at SCU she never considered her Italian major as secondary, but rather an integral part of her college education and her personal growth.”

SPANISH:  Erica Martinez

“Érica Martínez, graduating with a triple major in Spanish Studies, Biology, and Public Health Science, uplifted the atmosphere in every course with her intellectual acumen, seriousness of purpose, and care for classmates. These qualities were seen on a regular basis in her very active involvement in class discussions and group projects as well as in her support of others’ contributions.” “In class…she was thoughtful and clearly interested.  Her papers were reflective and had considerable attention to detail.  She was interest in the betterment of her community.  It should be pointed out that she was the 2019 recipient of the Francisco Jiménez Scholar Award.”



Henning Jolivet

“Henning Jolivet (double major in Finance and German) is this year's recipient of the Geoff and Josie Fox German Award.  Ever since he joined the German program, Henning has impressed upon his professors in numerous ways.  In class, he contributed generously to discussions on film, literature and business and helped create an inviting and respectful learning environment for everybody.  Always available to help - whether assisting his professors with computer issues or with German advocacy efforts - Henning's involvement in the program was marked by academic excellence and engagement.  Upon graduation, he will be working as a Risk Analyst at JP Morgan in Dallas and hopes to move to a German-speaking country in the future.”



Amanda Wucher

 “Amanda was planning to major in Italian Studies even before she committed to SCU.  She met with the faculty to discuss the program, attended Preview Days, made a class visit, and came in as a declared major.  Her interest in Italian stems from her heritage, but also from her deeply felt appreciation for languages and intercultural communication. In fact, we were not surprised when Amanda decided to also pursue a major in Communications.  While at SCU she was a dedicated officer of the Italian Club, she studied abroad in Milan, and she also worked as an Italian tutor for the Drahmann Center. In that capacity she was very effective and the students who were referred to the tutoring center appreciated not only her knowledge of the language, but also her patience and helpful attitude.”



Henry Godfrey

“A student in the Leavey School of Business, with a double Major in Finance and French, Henry Godfrey has been a strong advocate of the study of languages as a key component in an increasingly interconnected business world.  He chose Finance because of its wide application in the business field and to pursue his interest in investing/venture capital and business development. He chose to study French to diversify and expand his knowledge and understanding of French culture as well as gain fluency in the business language of Europe. During his study abroad in France, Henry took courses at the Paris School of Business. He is a current applicant for the 2020-21 TAPIF program in France.”



Alexis Miller

“Alexis Miller pursued a triple Major, in English, French, and Linguistics. Not only has she demonstrated a strong competence in 3 different fields but also an ability to traverse these different fields of specialization, and to emphasize their interconnections. Unlike many of her peers who chose to study abroad in Paris, Alexis decided instead to explore other Francophone regions. She spent a semester in Rabat, Morocco, where she studied French and field journalism. It was a transformative experience that broadened her intercultural competence and intellectual pursuits. She became increasingly intrigued by the study of languages and, upon her return, she added a Linguistics Major and started studying Arabic. In Winter 2020, she completed an independent study in French socio-linguistics to advance her understanding and exploration of languages as emblems of social behavior. Her French studies were instrumental in sparking her interest in linguistics as well as opened new research and career opportunities.  Alexis has recently accepted an offer to continue her studies of Linguistics at the University of Chicago in their MA program.”



Gloria Sevilla

“Gloria Sevilla is considering grad school in Education or Ethnic Studies…. The degree of conscientiousness and thoughtfulness that she applied to every single assignment was very uncommon even for an [high achieving] student.  She is a first generation scholar, very aware and reflective on social justice matters, and concerned with giving back to her community after graduation.” “She has been one of the hosts for the one SCU tUrn event that was wholly conducted in Spanish (Proyecto Reduce).”



Phi Sigma Iota – CLASS OF 2020


Members Inducted 2019

Sydney Altobell; Sarah Blair; Kira Fahy; Rachael Freitag; Shengyu Gao; Henry Godfrey; Maura Gustin; Mia Hope; Henning Jolivet; Sofia Kahler-Quesada; Yesenia Magdaleno; Erica Martinez; Megan Michalik; Alexis Miller; Nadia Miller; Christine Morino; Amanda Sit; Amanda Wucher


Phi Sigma Iota Inductees – 2020


Nicholas Fazio
Natali Gonzalez
Madison Sykes


Liam Buhl
Erich Hill


Anne Loewen
Katherine Stephens
Liam Villano


Camerson Heon



Nicole Chan
Ariel Grier
Alexandra Hogan
Camille Hope
Graeme Hugo
Parwana Khazi
Jacqueline Melberg
Rachel Milioto
Madeline Mott
Angelica Navarro
Diviana Navarro
Andrea Pena
Mariana Perera
Sabine Pigg
Gloria Sevilla
Allyson Villanueva


We wanted to hear from you!  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, plans, and memories…

Altobell, Sydney – Majors: Computer Science & Italian Studies; Minor: Mathematics

My SCU journey has definitely been shaped by the Modern Languages Department. I never thought I would graduate with a degree in Italian, but I'm so happy the Italian professors were so insistent on me completing more classes than just my language requirement. It's been great getting to know Professors Bubula-Phillips, Bertola and Ferraro in class and at all of the many extracurricular Italian activities. One of my favorite memories was cooking pasta with all of the professors in the tiny Casa Italiana kitchen while they gave me instructions in Italian. I am so grateful for those nights and all the opportunities the Italian Department gave me. Grazie mille!

Blair, Sarah – Majors: Neuroscience & Spanish Studies; Minor: Public Health

This fall I will be working in Disney World for a year before starting medical school. I want to say a huge thank you to all of my Spanish professors (Dr. Beebe, Dr. Schindewolf, and Dr. Ortigas) for being genuinely some of my favorite professors during my time at SCU. Each class was so enjoyable from laughing about romance in novels, to talking about regional swear words, to writing our own detective story. Thank you for creating the most fun classes I took here!!

Echeona, Erik – Majors: Political Science & Spanish Studies

From learning the basics of French with Kristen terry to understanding advanced Spanish and Latin American culture with Jose Ortigas, Alberto Ribas-Casasayas and Ariel Schindewolf, I have absolutely treasured my time with the Modern Languages Department and hope to expand my linguistic skills in the future! These past four years have been wonderful, thank you all!

Fahy, Kira – Majors: Spanish Studies & Biochemistry

I have loved being a part of the language department at SCU! From reading detective short stories with Profe Ortigas, to yelling out strange sounds in Linguistics to practice fonemas and alofonos with Profe Pellettieri, to learning all the cool Spanish slang from Profe Schindewolf, the Spanish classes have never failed to engage and entertain me. I'm glad I also got to put it to use while studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. Next year, I head to Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue my PhD in Chemistry.

Gao, Vivian – Majors: Spanish Studies, Studio Art

I am beyond grateful to be a part of the Modern Languages department and have the opportunity to learn from so many inspiring professors over the past four years. My experience being a Spanish major at SCU has proved that pursuing this major is by far one of the best choices I ever made. This decision has led me to explore diverse cultures around the world and meet and communicate with people from different backgrounds. Thank you to all of my language professors and my peers for fostering a supportive and fun learning community where I discovered and pursued my passion for languages!

Gustin, Maura – Majors: Spanish Studies and Biology; Minor: Public Health Science

My current plan is to take my MCAT and then go live in South America! I want to participate in a medical immersion program in Argentina to expand my language abilities and knowledge of healthcare systems abroad. Ultimately, I want to go to medical school and take what I learned from the Spanish program at SCU and apply it to help reduce health disparities in the medical field.

Hope, Mia – Majors: English and French & Francophone Studies, Minor: Biology

When I came into SCU, I enrolled in French 101 to fulfill my language requirement, since I had some background French knowledge from high school. I was already majoring in English and Biology, so I had a full plate and had no intentions of adding anything else. However, one day during the quarter, Prof. Boutouba and I had a meeting, and the next thing I knew I was leaving her office as a declared French major. At the time, I was apprehensive, but now I'm so thankful she did so. My French courses have been some of my favorite classes throughout my time at SCU, and I learned a lot about myself through learning a new language.

Kahler-Quesada, Sofia – Major: Neuroscience; Minors: Japanese Studies, Biology

Next year, I will be an assistant English teacher in Japan through the JET program. I am so excited to live in Japan full-time, work on my professional Japanese, and be part of cultural exchange in a community in a meaningful way.

たけだ先生、ほりべ先生、Thank you so much for your constant support and inspiration to see language and the world in a new light. You made SCU a wonderful place to be, and I cannot thank you enough for everything you have taught me.

Khazi, Parwana – Majors: Biology, Public Health, & Spanish Studies

Looking back on my journey with and within this department, I would like to wholeheartedly thank Professors Schindewolf and Ortigas for encouraging me, challenging me, and inspiring me to do better and be better these past few years. I am so grateful to have spent my time at SCU with this department and the incredible people in it!

Linnard, Nicole – Major: Public Health Science; Minors: Biology, Spanish Studies

I will be attending UTHealth School of Public Health in the fall to earn my Master of Public Health!

Magdaleno-Solis, Yesenia – Majors: Sociology and Spanish Studies

During my first year, I was in profesora Varona's Intermediate Spanish course with an ELSJ placement with a family in the Washington community. It took a while for me to find my community on campus, especially a Spanish-speaking community, but I found that with my ELSJ family. They helped me feel comfortable and proud of being at SCU.

McLaughlin, Spencer – Majors: Political Science, and Spanish Studies; Minor: Economics

My favorite part of majoring in Spanish was living in Spain for 3 months in Fall of 2018.

Mott, Madeline – Majors: Sociology & Studio Art; Minor: Spanish Studies

Following my graduation from SCU in the spring, I will beginning a role at Experien Group, a medical device company in San Jose. I look forward to  beginning my career at Experien, and continuing my artwork, with hopes of attending graduate school in the future.

Perera, Mariana – Majors: Spanish Studies, Political Science, and Communication

One of my favorite highlights at SCU was working at the Modern Languages Department and getting to meet all the great professors (and admin) :)

Pigg, Sabine – Major: Biochemistry; Minors: Spanish Studies and Political Science

I am so grateful to more or less have a minor in Rosemarie Beebe and Jill Pelletieri. I attribute so much of my growth throughout my time here at SCU to their incredibly inclusive, thoughtful, and multi-disciplinary approach to language and culture education. After graduation, I will be moving to New York City to work for a literacy non-profit called Reading Partners while going through the medical school application process!

Ruano, Eduardo Antonio – Major: Economics; Minor: Spanish Studies

I remember when as a first year student during my Fall quarter, I felt overwhelmed with the pressure of being a first-generation student. I went to speak with Professor McCully as one of her students in her first ever Biology 18 class to speak about something during office hours and I started telling her of the pressure I felt, and I remember her kind words gave me confidence to not give up. It really was an honor to be in her first ever class here at SCU, and to have encountered her as my professor. Her advice really did go a long way in motivating me.

Sevilla, Gloria – Major: Spanish Studies; Minors: Mathematics & Urban Education

I will always remember the warm embrace I received from the Language Department at SCU. I immediately felt like my opinions, perspectives, questions and presence were validated. In particular the faculty in the Spanish Department made my experience at Santa Clara so much better. In my previous major, I was feeling so depressed and out of place. Yet in this department/major I regained my passion for learning and my motivation. Most importantly, I gained a better understanding of the world around us, what it is in need of and what my role in society is. Thank you Modern Languages Department - faculty, students and staff.

Sit, Mandi – Majors: Environmental Studies & Spanish Studies; Minors: Entrepreneurship & Sustainability

I am so incredibly grateful for my language experience at SCU! My favorite classes were with Profesora Beebe. Even though I had 8am class with her at one point, she always made class entertaining and fun. Her energy and enthusiasm was contagious even when we were reading literature that wasn't my favorite. In class, she made our Spanish readings seem like telenovelas and it was never a boring day. I will always appreciate my time taking Spanish at SCU and have no regrets about doing the major. Muchas gracias!!