Rachel Turner

Little Rock, AR

Majors and certificates

International Studies, Spanish, Global Cultures

Graduation year


After graduation

I have served as a PASS AmeriCorps volunteer at a neighborhood center and worked at the university level as a Card Services Assistant Director and a Human Ecology Graduate Program Coordinator and Department Administrator. I have also volunteered for several service committees and been a private Spanish and English tutor. I am happy to say that I have been able to use my language skills in each of these positions.


In high school, I studied Spanish and really enjoyed it. It was fun to be able to communicate in another language, and I liked how language study is comprehensive; not only do you study the language itself, but also cultural aspects of the countries where it is spoken.  I found that I had a natural inclination for learning languages and believed that knowing more languages would be beneficial for my career, so I decided that in addition to studying Spanish at UW, I would also study the Romance languages of Italian and Portuguese. I wish that I had had time to get degrees in all three languages, or even better, to complete the courses of study for all the Romance languages!

How language enriched

Learning languages besides English has helped me to see the world from new and different perspectives. It has given me insight into other cultures and ways of living that are different from mine. Speaking to others in their native tongue has allowed me to communicate with them in a more precise manner and to connect with them on a deeper level. I have also received the chance to converse with and form relationships with people who did not know any English. Furthermore, being a Spanish speaker allowed me to study abroad in Ecuador, a country where it would be impossible to live and travel without knowing Spanish.

Favorite memory

I felt like I was part of an intimate community. Since most of the classes were smaller, the students and professor knew each other well. I felt like the environment was one where I was free to ask questions and share ideas. UW’s language TAs and professors do an excellent job of providing an in-depth and complete language education. The professors are experts in their field who are passionate about teaching and exploring their specialty in their language. Valued experiences

How language was maintained

I have attended conversation tables and befriended people with whom I could speak in my secondary languages. I try to read books, listen to music, and watch television in Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian as much as possible. It also helps when I am able to use these languages for my job. I hope that I can travel abroad at some point and be able to further improve my foreign language skills.

Advice for others

Take as many classes as you can while you are in school to gain as much knowledge about the language as you can. The UW-Madison language departments have some excellent, world-class professors who are leaders in their field; take the time to learn from them. Take every opportunity to practice your secondary language, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Favorite word or phrase

Guagua—Cuban Spanish for “bus”


Take every opportunity to practice your secondary language, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.