Department of Foreign Languages

2012-2013 Profiles

angela najera (Secondary education with spanish concentration & teacher licensure, '13)

Ms. Najera is originally from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. She attended high school at Justo Rufino Barrios and also in Warren County, Tenn. She worked for several years as a teaching assistant and school translator in the Warren County School District, and hopes to teach at a school near her Tennessee home after graduation.

At the time of her graduation Ms. Najera said, "I enjoyed my time at TTU, and I think TTU has some very talented teachers. My favorites were Dr. Groundland and Dr. Laurila. I learned a lot from all the different teachers I had, but the ones that really made an impact in my life are the two I mentioned.

"One thing I didn't like about TTU was the parking problem. I was a commuter, and many times I couldn't find parking. That was a headache every day. I hope that in the future, TTU can come up with more parking spaces for people who commute every day."

dalila suarez (SPANISH & criminal justice, '13)

holly west (SPANISH with TEACHER LICENSURE, '13)

During her time at Tech, Ms. West traveled to Argentina with other TTU students and Dr. Marketta Laurila. She also studied abroad in Costa Rica for three weeks. She was a member of Alpha Mu Gamma, the Foreign Languages Honor Society, and received a Department of Foreign Languages Faculty and Alumni Scholarship for the Fall 2013 term.

David L. Hixson (Spanish, '13)

Mr. Hixson is from Harriman, Tennessee, and had his first international travel experience while in high school. He spent one week touring England and France. While working on his Spanish degree at TTU, he was able to spend two months studying Spanish in Costa Rica.

He currently works as a departmental manager for Kroger in Harriman, but hopes to teach Spanish in the future. Regarding his experience at Tennessee Tech, Mr. Hixson says, "I enjoyed my time at TTU. The Foreign Language professors were excellent and they would help you in any way. The professors knew you personally and their doors were always open to talk to you about anything."

Everett James Dahl (German with Teaching Licensure, '13)

Mr. Dahl, a graduate of Cumberland County High School in Crossville, Tenn., stayed very busy during his years at TTU with travel abroad and extracurricular activities, in addition to his studies. In May-August 2011 he completed an internship in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in which he worked with children at an enterprise called Abenteuerspielplatz ("Adventure Playhouse"). In 2013 he went on a ten-day, faculty-led trip to Berlin.

On campus Mr. Dahl worked as the German tutor for the Department of Foreign Languages for one year, and as Dr. Martin Sheehan's faculty assistant during Fall 2012. He also served as vice-president and then president of Der Deutsche Klub, the TTU German Club, for a total of three years, and as vice-president of the Tech chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma, the Foreign Languages Honor Society. In addition, he represented the College of Arts and Sciences as a student representative on the University Curriculum Committee.

Mr. Dahl plans to teach German in a high school setting and eventually obtain his Master's degree. Upon his graduation from Tech, he said, "The idea of obtaining a doctorate is a thrilling one, though I am unsure as to where my future will take me. Overall, I just want to be happy and learn more about the world."

Kati Woods (Spanish, '13)

Ms. Woods studied abroad in Cartagena, Colombia, for six weeks in the Summer of 2010. She served as president of the Amigos Spanish Club during the 2012-2013 academic year. She plans to work in Cookeville for a few years to save money for her two-year Peace Corps Service.

Shortly after receiving her B.A. in Spanish in August 2013, Ms. Woods said, "I did not speak Spanish until studying at TTU. I owe my proficiency in my field to the wonderful faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages."

abbotoy, hannah (spanish '12)

In a 2016 update, Ms. Abbotoy said that she spent the past four years teaching in a home-school co-op (elementary, middle and high school levels). She taught Spanish for two of those years, and has also tutored high school students in Spanish, algebra and ACT preparation. She currently works for an appraiser and is the secretary of a non-profit organization.

Beth Douglass (Spanish and IBAC, '12)

Ms. Douglass is from Chattanooga, where she graduated from Notre Dame High School. Even while working on two degrees at Tech (B.A. in Spanish and B.S. in International Business and Cultures), she managed to find time to participate in many activities. She completed her University Academic Scholarship service hours in the Dept. of Foreign Languages and in the International Education Office; she was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi National Interdisciplinary Honor Society, the International Business Society (vice-president), Amigos Spanish Club, Avant Garde French Club (treasurer) and the Intramural Volleyball and Soccer Teams; and she was active in Newman Campus Ministry.

In addition to belonging to the above organizations, Ms. Douglass took part in the TTU Honors Program. She also received the 2012 College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Liberal Arts Award, and was a 2012 Derryberry Award Finalist.

Ms. Douglass also studied abroad three times: one month in Finland, one semester in Costa Rica, and two semesters in Valencia, Spain. She said, "Studying abroad was the highlight of my program of study. One of my favorite semesters was when I was able to extend my studies to a second semester in Spain and gain another valuable learning experience by participating in the European Industrial Management program. During the second semester, I also worked with the owner of a Spanish wine company and became the project leader responsible for developing a strong company image in order to prepare their products for the international market. As a team, we worked very well together and were able to use our different backgrounds to our advantage. Not only were we from different parts of the world (Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the United States), but also we had experiences in different areas of study (Industrial Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electro-Mechanical Engineering, Product Design, and International Business). Each of us brought different talents, perspectives, values, and experiences to the work of the team... These experiences proved to be enlightening and liberating, and have opened my eyes to the world around me."

After graduation from TTU, Ms. Douglass completed her M.A. in Cross-Cultural Communication and International Marketing at Newcastle University in England. Her long-term goal is to work for an international company using her language skills.

At the time of her TTU graduation, Ms. Douglass also wrote: I feel very lucky to have had such great support, encouragement, and inspiration from the Department of Foreign Languages."

Rachel Evans (German and Professional Communications, '12)

Ms. Evans is from Lebanon, Tenn., and was home-schooled through the Frances Schaeffer Study Center in Mt. Juliet. At TTU she was inducted into Alpha Mu Gamma (the Foreign Languages National Honor Society), and was also active in Der Deutsche Klub (German Club), where she held the posts of secretary, vice-president and president at various times throughout her college career.

Ms. Evans also had the opportunity to travel to Germany three times through the Department of Foreign Languages, and credits much of her success to these experiences abroad. She says, "I have been very fortunate with my opportunities to travel... I had those experiences not only because of the travel scholarship program which pays for students' flights [through the Study Abroad program in the International Education Office], but also the incredible encouragement I have had from past and current faculty members [in the Dept. of Foreign Languages] to pursue opportunities abroad. It was the foreign experience and my time abroad that gave me the confidence to make German my major... Looking back at my experience studying German at Tennessee Tech, I feel very appreciative of the level of attention and encouragement I had from the faculty. I always felt that hard work was noticed and rewarded, and that my professors had my best interests in mind."

Courtney Hard (Spanish, '12)

Ms. Hard is from McMinnville, Tennessee, where she graduated from Boyd Christian High School. She has been on several week-long mission trips to Honduras, one summer-long mission trip to Honduras, and mission trips to Baja Mexico.

Ms. Hard has accepted an 11-month internship at an orphanage in Ecuador. She is uncertain of her long-term plans, but hopes to work in a missions-related field.

hannah m. (rutherford) howell (SPANISH, '12)

Mrs. Howell is currently a Spanish teacher at Smyrna High School. In 2016 she wrote: "Studying a foreign language made me appreciate the cultures and the world around me more than I realized it would. The professors at TTU influenced me greatly and also encouraged me to study abroad. Going to San Jose, Costa Rica, was an experience I'll never forget. Thanks to Tennessee Tech and the Department of Foreign Languages, I have achieved more than I thought I could, both personally and professionally!"

Rachel Powelson (Spanish with Teaching Licensure, '12)

Ms. Powelson is from Fayetteville, Tenn, and graduated from Lincoln County High School there. During her time at Tennessee Tech she was a member of the Amigos Spanish Club, and was also inducted into Alpha Mu Gamma, the National Foreign Languages Honor Society.

Ms. Powelson spent two months in Acapulco, Mexico, as an intern in a children's home. She also used her language skills as a Spanish tutor for a family in Cookeville.

She wrote, "Immediately after graduating, I plan on working abroad with Wycliffe Bible Translators as a linguistics worker; I do not know yet what country I will be working in. My career plans involve studying linguistics in grad school and possibly working with Wycliffe long-term."

Ellen Davita Martin (Spanish, '12; English, '11)

Mrs. Martin considers Cookeville her hometown. She graduated from Upperman High School in Baxter. While at TTU she was inducted into Alpha Mu Gamma, the National Foreign Languages Honor Society. She also worked with the Tennessee Migrant Education Program, tutoring children in families who recently moved to the area. After graduation she taught Spanish and also worked as a medical interpreter.

Mrs. Martin studied abroad in Murcia, Spain for one semester. She also spent two months doing missions work in Mexico.

At the time of her graduation Mrs. Martin wrote, "I have had a wonderful experience at Tech as a Spanish major. All of my professors have been outstanding, and I feel that I've learned a great deal about the language, culture and literature of Spanish-speaking countries."

Joshua Dale Martin (Spanish, '12; English, '10)

Mr. Martin is a native of Bloomington Springs, Tenn., and graduated from Jackson County High School in Gainesboro. While at TTU he was a member of Alpha Mu Gamma (National Foreign Languages Honor Society), Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Tau Delta and Amigos Spanish Club. In Spring 2011 he received the Frederick Heina Memorial Scholarship through the Department of Foreign Languages. In Fall 2011 he received the W.B. and F.W. Carlen Memorial Scholarship. During his time as an English major he received the Coca-Cola Partners Scholarship, the William Jenkins Creative Writing Scholarship, the Charles Denson Daniel Memorial Scholarship and the A.W. and Hilda Singer Scholarship, and was also a winner of the Golden Eagle Scholarship/Writing Competition.

In Spring 2011, Mr. Martin volunteered as a translator and tutor at Jere Whitson Elementary School for Hispanic children. In the summer of 2011, he and his wife, Ellen Martin (formerly Ellen West), volunteered to teach English to Spanish-speaking immigrants at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. Mr. Martin also worked with the State of Tennessee's Migrant Education Program, tutoring Hispanic children of all ages in many subjects.

During Fall Semester 2011, Mr. and Mrs. Martin studied in Murcia, Spain, through ISEP. They were able to visit a number of areas in Spain, including Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo and Alicante. And they were married in Gibraltar!

Mr. Martin was accepted into the M.A./Ph.D. Spanish program at the University of Kentucky, where he teaches undergraduate Spanish courses in addition to his studies and research.

In 2016 Mr. Martin wrote, regarding his time at TTU,"I enjoyed all of my classes and experiences (at home and abroad) as a Spanish major at TTU. I am thankful also to have studied under professors who were very dedicated to their students' progress and always worked to ensure that we were prepared to realize our long-term goals. One of the best decisions I made was to study a second language - it has opened up doors for me professionally, allowed me to work directly with the Spanish-speaking community, and has allowed me to meet and connect with people from all over the world. My only regret is that I did not study other languages!"