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Name Patrick Thomas Ridge
Graduation year May 2017
Major Ph.D. Spanish, Specialization in Latin American Literature and Culture
What's your current job?
Graduate Teaching Associate, Arizona State University (current)
Assistant Professor of Spanish, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), begins Fall 2017
How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?
A knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese has provided access to a vast number of literary and cultural texts from Spain and Latin America. Since I have studied numerous forms of cultural production--novel, short story, film, photography, comics, etc.--I have discovered texts that have enriched my own research on Latin American soccer, while also providing engaging teaching materials for my students and their various learning preferences.
Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?
I have had numerous study abroad experiences. During my undergraduate studies, I studied in Panamá City, Panamá (May 2006) and Segovia, Spain (Spring semester 2007). I then worked as a English Language and Culture Assistant in Córdoba, Spain during the 2008-09 school year. During my graduate studies at the University of Louisville, I studied in São José do Rio Preto, Brazil (June 2010). Finally, during my time as a Spanish Graduate Associate and Spanish Research Associate at Arizona State, I taught in Mérida, México for ASU's study abroad program in the Yucatán and helped Dr. Foster coordinate the 2014 NEH seminar on Jewish Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I feel very lucky to have all of these experiences. While I have valued my time studying literature and culture on campus and in the classroom, experimenting with the Spanish and Portuguese languages while interacting with people from various regions has allowed me to hone my language skills and reflect on my own culture and background.
How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?
During my first semester at Arizona State, Dr. Foster, my dissertation chair, encouraged me to pursue my research interests on Latin American sports. Without this initial push and his sincere dedication to my graduate studies, I would not be where I am today. This support, along with the knowledge acquired during my SILC coursework, has not only enhanced my knowledge in Latin American literature and culture, but also prepared me for future community and academic endeavors.
Recognizing the program's dedication to innovative research on cultural studies, my dissertation explores literary representations of Latin American soccer. I have found that the game represents more than just a mere sport, but rather a significant social and cultural entity that facilitates an understanding of the region. Aside from my dissertation, my coursework on visual studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the support of my dissertation committee--Dr. Foster, Dr. Tompkins and Dr. Urioste--has resulted in various publications for some of the nation's most recognized scholarly journals. For instance, I have published on Argentine documentary, masculinity in Brazilian film, and representations of violence in contemporary Spanish cinema in Studies in Latin America Popular Culture, Romance Notes, and Hispanic Journal.
What was your favorite thing about learning a language?
My favorite thing about learning a language is that it helps us strengthen a human connection with others. I have realized this most while volunteering as a medical interpreter for Cathedral Health Services in downtown Phoenix. I understand that my language skills both facilitate medical care and ensure patient comfort.
During my time abroad and at Arizona State, I have also established many wonderful friendships, and I know that without my knowledge in Spanish and Portuguese, this would not have been possible.
Any advice for current language studies students?
ASU offers numerous cultural opportunities and activities, and I recommend that every student take advantage of these. Furthermore, take advantage of all resources on campus and at ASU's libraries--digital access to Latin American newspapers, the mkrspace, etc. Also, take courses outside your field. For instance, I took a course on the Digital Humanities with Dr. Wernimont my last year at ASU. Even though I am not a DH specialist, I use skills learned in the course to prepare my courses, develop collaborative group projects for my students, and approach my research in alternative ways.