Shenandoah University Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of Hispanic Studies Andrea M. Smith, Ph.D., attended the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) conference in Salamanca, Spain, over the summer. The AATSP is “the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive language-specific professional association in the United States. Our nearly 10,000 members are educators from PreK-12 through graduate school who endorse our mission to promote, develop, and advance the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese worldwide,” according to its website, aatsp.org.
Dr. Smith applied for and received a travel scholarship from AATSP and Vista Higher Learning to attend the conference, for which she designed a panel in collaboration with her research partner, Dr. Eunice Rojas from Furman University. “We both presented on the Chilean crime series ‘La Jauría,’” Smith said. The title of her paper was “No estamos solas: Women Seeking Justice in ‘La jauría.’”
Smith began her career as an educator more than 20 years ago. After teaching in public high schools for four years and at the University of Virginia as she earned her doctorate, she joined Shenandoah University in 2009. She has taught more than 20 different courses in five departments at the Winchester, Virginia-based university: Languages and Cultural Studies, First-Year Seminar, Media & Communications, English, and Physician Assistant Studies.
“For me, the most exciting thing about speaking another language is the people who become accessible to you, and I try to remind students that each language learned introduces us to millions of people with whom we never could have had a relationship otherwise,” she said. “I love watching students progress in the language when they never thought they could, and I love hearing students’ stories about using language in context, whether it’s getting to know their coworkers, navigating through a Spanish-speaking area, or having a more meaningful conversation with a grandparent. My passion lies in working with first-generation undergraduates, Hispanic and Latinx populations, and student-athletes, and my favorite courses to teach are SPAN 101, medical Spanish, and film/TV courses that center the cultures of South America.”