Alumni - Recent Graduates

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