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Name Laura E. Belmonte
Graduation year December 2016
Major PhD in Spanish, concentrated in Chicano Literature and Cultural Studies
What's your current job?
I will be starting my position as Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico this Spring 2017.
How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?
Being bilingual and bicultural has always been to my benefit, especially professionally. My parents are Mexican immigrants, and for most of my life I have been able to communicate in English and Spanish, thus allowing me more opportunities in whatever field I decided to go into. Also, growing up in a home in which Mexican culture was embraced showed me cultural competence in understanding other person's perspectives, be it in the workforce or in society in general. Now as a professor, I encounter students, faculty, and community members from all backgrounds, language preferences, and perspectives on how to approach difficult issues in our society, and being able to communicate and empathize both culturally and linguistically has been a huge factor in my professional and academic success.
How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?
Being at a university like ASU has opened the path for me to work with faculty that are well-known in their respective fields, and allowed me to achieve higher standards of academic writing and research. The faculty I worked with at SILC are excellent educators and scholars who have molded me to be inquisitive, seek the latest theoretical applications, and to be brave in delving into the difficult questions of my field. I will be forever grateful to my time and education at ASU and SILC, as it has been a formative experience in my scholarly work that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.
What was your favorite thing about learning a language?
Learning a new language made me a more empathetic person to those around me, especially those who immigrate to this country. I learned Portuguese and Italian in graduate school, and those experiences opened my eyes, especially as a person who has been bilingual in English and Spanish most of her life, to how difficult acquiring a new language it can be. However, I am so grateful I did learn new languages because not only can I have access to the world around me in four languages, but I have learned patience, perseverance, and the complete satisfaction of communicating with so many of those around me.
Any advice for current language studies students?
Language learning is a gift. Because of this, persevere in learning as many languages as you can, because the world opens up in a way that you can't imagine. Read news articles from another country, try to avoid hitting the "translate" button on social media with your multilingual friends. It will expose you to so many wonderful things this world has to offer.