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Class of 2020: Lucero Espinal

This fall, when Lucero Espinal steps into her Spanish classroom for the first time as a full-fledged teacher, the Spanish major will be empowered with all the materials and resources her mentor Dr. Maria Campero provided that not only fueled her curiosity about languages and cultures but sharpened her communication skills and helped shape her identity as a Xicana and educator.

Lucero Espinal Class of 2020

Lucero Espinal, from Columbia, Maryland, is a Spanish major with a specialization in PreK-12 Education.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: extremely nervous and anxious. I did not know what to expect, let alone how to prepare since I was the first one in my family to move to a four-year college on a full-ride scholarship.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day: has true grit. Near the end of high school, my favorite teacher, Mrs. Olney, said what set me apart from the rest of my peers was that I had grit. At the time, I thought she meant I had a lot of perseverance because I was stubborn and a hard worker. Now, I understand what she meant after reflecting on the experiences I endured at McDaniel College.

Real-world experiences: As part of the Education program, I interned at a variety of public schools in Howard County from elementary to middle and high school with a Spanish teacher. I also had the opportunity to work at a variety of offices/departments on campus: First Stop, the Center for Experience & Opportunity, Admissions, Financial Aid, Office for Diversity & Inclusion, Office of Student Engagement, and the IT Help Desk. My favorite would be working at the IT Help Desk because it was a new challenge and I loved the work environment. The staff and student workers were very friendly and helpful in answering my questions related to technological infrastructures.

Aha moment: When I discovered that there are multiple translations for words in Spanish as well as dialects. I grew up in an area where the majority of the community was from Mexico so I was used to speaking in a certain manner. Through discussions with my peers and mentors, I discovered slight differences in vocabulary. After a few misinterpretations, I realized not everyone spoke like me and found out there are at least five translations for the word “straw” (some of which are too inappropriate to list).

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I hope that people realize that much work is still needed to be done to support students from marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds. Whether it be recognizing and celebrating diverse backgrounds, to providing students with the necessary resources to help them succeed.

Professor who most influenced who I have become: Dra. Maria Campero from the Spanish Department. Dra. Campero was a consistent figure in my college education from my first Spanish class to my senior capstone. She provided endless materials and resources that fueled my curiosity about languages and cultures. Not only did she help me improve my communication skills in Spanish, Dra. Campero helped me gain an in-depth understanding of my culture, which shaped my identity as a Xicana and future educator.

My mentor. For life.: My older sister, Yoselin. She had to put her dreams aside to help our mom raise our younger sister Katherine and myself when our dad was deported. Seeing how hard Yoselin worked to continue her own education as well as raise our family, motivated me to work harder. It did not matter if I was having issues with friends or trouble focusing on an assignment, Yoselin was always available to talk.

Best class ever: Methodology in World Languages and Literature with Amy Pritchett. Despite our class being composed of five graduate/undergraduate students studying either German or Spanish, Professor Pritchett was able to connect with everyone and their subject. She also made the material fun and easy to comprehend since it was a three-hour night class that met once a week. The environment was great since everyone loved languages and our department was flexible so that we could create a variety of engaging materials for our future classrooms and students.

Took me totally by surprise: Realizing that I did not meet the expectations that I set up for myself as a first-year student. Looking back, I know that I had to shift my priorities in order to accomplish my long-term goal of graduating from college, as well as coming to terms with those decisions because my values had changed as a result.

My favorite spot on campus: Merritt Hall 301. Not only can the desks be moved around to form different shapes, the chairs are also adjustable, which is important for a short person like myself. It is the best studying place because there is a bathroom, water fountain, and vending machine on the same floor. The large windows are the best part because it frames the outside view really nice no matter what the weather is, which has disrupted class a lot, especially the sunsets. My favorite memories were in Merritt: my First Year Seminar class, my Spanish capstone course, petting the therapy dogs in the lobby, and waiting for my friends after their weekly fraternity meetings.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, things rarely turn out as you planned them to.

My capstone: “Mirando más allá de los monitores” [Looking beyond the monitors]

What it’s about: It is based on the book “Kentukis” by Samanta Schweblin and the capstone class SPA 4410: Figuraciones de lo animal en el Cono Sur. It is a 12-page research essay in Spanish that discusses how voyeurism leads the character Emilia to utilize a rabbit Kentukis, a stuffed animal with wheels and a camera, to explore an unknown version of herself and reflect upon her broken family ties.

What it’s really about: Peeping toms and stuffed rabbits.

What’s next: As part of my scholarship program, Teachers for Tomorrow (T4T), I will work as a Secondary Spanish teacher for three years in the Howard County Public School System. During which, I hope to continue studying and earn my master’s in Education.

About Lucero

Name: Lucero Espinal

Major: Spanish with a concentration in PreK-12 Education

Class of 2020