by Julianne Sandberg '08
As the third most spoken language in the world, Spanish accounts for 330 million native speakers. The Hispanic population is also the fastest growing segment in North America. With statistics like these, it’s easy to see why people trained in the language are in high demand.
For this reason, Cedarville’s Spanish program — part of the language and literature department — seeks to prepare students linguistically, culturally and spiritually for Spanish-based professions. The program consistently produces high-quality graduates who leave Cedarville ready for an exciting world. And few Spanish students demonstrate this success better than two 2008 alumni who received the highest awards the University bestows on commencing students.
A Spanish major with minors in Bible, missions and business, Kristie Febo received the prestigious President’s Trophy, one of only three students to receive this award in 2008. The President’s Trophy is the highest honor for a graduating senior and recognizes leadership, ministry, community and campus involvement, athletic performance, and academic achievement.
With her full-packed college years, Kristie was a natural choice for the award. Between serving as a resident assistant, working in the admissions office, playing intramural sports and volunteering in community ministries — among many other things — Kristie stayed busy. “These experiences, on top of my education, formed me into the person I am today,” she says. “God used my involvement in these various activities to challenge my view of Him and continue the process of making me more like Christ.”
Along with five other graduates, Laura Ziegenfus, who majored in Spanish education, received the Faculty Scholarship Award, given to graduates who maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA during college. “School wasn’t something that necessarily came easily for me,” she explains, “but it was something that I honestly enjoyed. I definitely logged a lot of hours in the Centennial Library!”
Although she placed a high priority on academics, Laura also found time to participate in a variety of organizations, ministries and jobs. “Finding and maintaining balance were key,” she says. “Academics and classes are very important, but you must also have a balanced life. There were times when having a long conversation with someone in my unit was more important than studying a few more hours for a test.”
Tools for Success
Not only did Kristie and Laura both receive top awards, but they also share similar perspectives on their college experience. They believe the most beneficial aspect of Cedarville’s Spanish program was the opportunity to spend a whole semester in Spain. By talking with native Spanish-speakers, practicing their language skills and learning about the culture, they saw the Cedarville classroom come to life. Many Cedarville students benefit from experiences like this one, since international study is required of all Spanish majors.
Kristie is thankful to the University for providing these opportunities, especially as she plans to use her Spanish skills in overseas ministry. “Cedarville works with students to get them where they want to go,” she says, “and values the immersion experience in another culture to gain language skills and cross-cultural understanding.”
Both Kristie and Laura are quick to give credit to their Cedarville professors for preparing them with the skills they’ll need after graduation. “They have a broad range of experiences that make their teaching both interesting and effective,” Laura says. “Not only do they have a strong desire to see us grow, but they are also excited about what they’re teaching, which helps us get excited about it, too.”
But it’s certainly not all fun and games. As Laura explains, “The professors don’t let us off easy — they really challenge us. But they constantly support us, too.”
It is this balance of rigor and encouragement that makes Cedarville’s Spanish program so effective. In Laura’s own words, “Regardless of where the Lord leads me, Cedarville has prepared me to be successful.” And as they make decisions about their futures, Kristie and Laura are certain of Cedarville’s influence in their lives, not only academically but also spiritually.
“Even more than equipping me to succeed in the fields of education and Spanish,” Laura says, “Cedarville has prepared me for the real world by helping to strengthen my faith in God.”
Kristie echoes similar sentiments, saying, “My time here was pivotal in igniting in me a passion for the name of the Lord and creating a growing desire to see Him proclaimed among the nations.”
Laura and Kristie are currently considering future ministry and career options, desiring to use their Spanish skills in practical and influential ways. Wherever they end up, they will undoubtedly demonstrate the same levels of success they exemplified at Cedarville.