Spanish degree nears approval

Tyler Mortimore and Kimberly Stelly, tmortimore@lmcexperience.com

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Students who have taken one of Los Medanos College’s Spanish classes may be well on their way to a degree that doesn’t officially exist, at least not at the moment.
A Spanish associative arts transfer degree is out of the planning phase and on its way to being approved at the district level, later going to the state chancellor’s office for final confirmation. The AAT would be the 45th degree at LMC.
Laurie Huffman said getting this degree approved has been a longtime coming. “I’ve been here almost 30 years. I’ve always wanted the degree in Spanish,” she said. “Hopefully, in spring I’ll hear the first degree at graduation ‘associative arts transfer in Spanish’, and our department will be cheering,” she said. According to Huffman, LMC aims to get district approval and then approval from the chancellor’s office, which can take up to six months.
At only 19 credits, any student who has taken Elementary Spanish I and II will already be halfway to a degree. The four-course degree only requires the two Intermediate Spanish classes in addition to the two elementary classes, but students who leapfrogged the elementary courses — either through AP credit or assessment testing — can substitute courses like French I or Chicano Cinema to earn their degree.
Dean of Liberal Arts Nancy Ybarra said by having this degree available to students is a factor in “helping [LMC] produce global citizens.”
“Simply knowing the language and having access to being bilingual and bicultural — not just knowing the language, but understanding the culture — and being able to work with people from Latin American countries, Spain and the Caribbean is such an advantage,” she said.
The United States Census Office has estimated that by 2050, this country will have 138 million Spanish-speakers, becoming the largest Spanish-speaking country. Ybarra said, “We have so many people who are Spanish-speaking here.” She said Spanish is “a language of commerce, land and culture.”
Huffman pointed out that having a degree in Spanish would be useful in the process of getting a job. “For vocational purposes, students that go to the workplace will be able to put on their resume that they can speak Spanish as a second or third language. They can also transfer and get a bachelors of arts in Spanish at any of the CSUs that offer that degree, and that degree is usually the ticket into a master’s degree,” said Huffman.
It was noted that many students regardless of major can benefit from this course of learning. Huffman said African-American students can take it to benefit businesses, Middle Eastern students because Arabic is similar to Spanish.
Some take it for fun or because it’s considered one of the romantic languages.
“The program is fun, the classes are really fun. We challenge our students, obviously, but at the same time they really enjoy learning,“ said Huffman.
-Beatriz Hernandez contributed to this report
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