Alumni - Recent Graduates

Genesse Villalta '15

The Spanish language and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese have given me a home. While I was quick to shun my culture and my language, my culture and my language have never shunned me. I have never felt more welcomed than on my trips with USC to Honduras and Madrid. As a Spanish-speaker, I have had numerous doors open to travel, assimilate with cultures, and listen to stories and life-experiences of others. It is with pride that I will graduate with dual degrees in Spanish and Neuroscience from USC. I plan to hold both of these degrees high in my career as a physician assistant in the communication and health services for those who desperately need it. Above all, my Spanish degree will always help me remember who I am, where I come from, and my heritage as a Latin-American woman.

Genesse Villalta is one of the recipients for the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Service Award conferred by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Mary Waller '15

As a tutor for SAAS, I learned to teach a diverse set of students, ranging greatly in their academic ability and motivation. I teach both Spanish and French (levels 1-4). I conduct all my sessions in Spanish or French respectively, and help my students to be able to express themselves in the language to the best of their abilities. I believe that all students can love the language they are studying and be good at it, and I have made it my mission each semester to help my students connect with the language in a way that is meaningful to them. It is a privilege to be able to work with students one on one and adjust my teaching to their level and learning style. As a tutor for SAAS I practice patience, discretion and creativity, while also holding my students accountable. Integrating my own studies of Spanish with teaching Spanish one on one (or in small groups) has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences I have had as a Spanish major at USC.

Mary Waller is one of the recipients for the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Award conferred by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Mary K. Planchet '15

My Spanish education is incredibly important with regard to the furtherance of my career. I plan on working in the legal field once I graduate, and possessing the ability to speak a second language will undoubtedly help me to achieve my goals and find jobs that assist the public, including the large Hispanic population of Los Angeles.

Mary K. Planchet is one of the recipients for the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Award conferred by the  Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Jasmine Gale '15

I am often asked where I learned Spanish, and I proudly describe USC's interdisciplinary Department of Spanish and Portuguese and study abroad programs. My newfound confidence in the language has allowed me to communicate more effectively with a large portion of the world, including the large Spanish-speaking population in USC's backyard. Whether tutoring students of Spanish, serving as a cultural and comfort bridge for emergency patients, or teaching science in Spanish, I am proud to be both the product of, and an ambassador for, USC's Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Jasmine Gale has received the 2015 Honorable Mention for Academics by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Michael Hergenrader '12

I am a foreign language grammar geek. I love exploring all the possibilities of expression in rich languages like Spanish and Portuguese. Throughout my time at USC, I strived to communicate creatively in these languages, inside the classroom and out, constantly playing with new patterns and phrases to find a style. However, without full-time immersion in a native speaking environment, how could I determine that my manners of expression were in tune with the native parts of the world?  To start answering this difficult question, I leveraged my other passion, Computer Science. In my senior thesis, I used natural language processing and machine learning techniques to statistically analyze millions of native Spanish and Portuguese texts. From the results of this analysis, I have discovered some of the most distinguishing features of written styles in many Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries.  Today, this research is a foundation for my continuing linguistic investigations. At Microsoft, I employ statistical machine translation theory to provide more relevant search and ad results in various international markets. And, on my time, I continually experiment, be it with algorithms or pens, to perfect my writing, striving to someday publish works written in the languages I so eagerly explore.

Martin Hodis '12

I strived to optimize all the resources that the Spanish Department had to offer.  I joined the Spanish Undergraduate Student Association (SUSA) where I served as secretary and eventually president, working on ways to immerse myself and other students in the Spanish language and the various cultures of Spanish-speaking countries.  To improve my Spanish skills, I participated in the USC Summer Madrid Program where I spent seven weeks taking Spanish classes, living with a host family, and learning about Spanish culture and history.  One of the best opportunities I had was studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, for five months.  I not only had an incredible host family that taught me much Spanish (and chilenismos) but studied in the top universities in the country.  This experience greatly assisted my goal of achieving fluency.  In addition, I had the opportunity to explore Chile and South America, becoming further immersed in the Spanish language and South American culture.  Due to my positive experience in Chile and a strong desire to return, I began work as an English teaching volunteer for the Chilean English Opens Doors Program.  I will be in Chile for 5 months, working to animate Chilean students from sixth to eleventh grade to learn English.

  • Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • Taper Hall of Humanities 156
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0358