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Alumni Connect - 1st Annual Tailgate in the Courtyard

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CMLL hosted the 1st Annual "Tailgate in the Courtyard" in the Foreign Languages courtyard and lower floor lobby on October 18 during Texas Tech's Homecoming during which faculty and alumni had the opportunity to reconnect. CMLL aims to keep contact with its alumni and encourage networking. A portion of the proceeds from the event in the amount of $1705 benefitted the new Lorum Stratton Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment. For more details on the scholarship endowment click here; for contribution statistics click here. Guns up to CMLL Alumni! We hope to you at the next Alumni Connect. Please let us know what you are doing!

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Dr. Joe H. Alcorta, PhD Spanish, 1980

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I have been teaching Spanish at Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas for 44 years. I have several self- published books to help the following professions:

  • Essential Spanish for Bankers
  • Essential Spanish for Doctors and Nurses
  • Essential Spanish for Lawyers and Judges
  • Essential Spanish for Teachers
  • Essential Spanish for Restaurant Personnel
  • Essential Spanish to Share Your Faith

In addition, I have penned 2 books of a different nature:

  • Words of Wisdom from a Cool College Professor
  • From the Cotton Fields to a College Professor (his memoirs)

Following in his grandfather's footsteps, Michael Castillo, who is also a native of Abilene, Texas, is a Freshman Red Raider at Tech this year.

Laura Burrus, BA French & Journalism, 2009

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 After graduating in 2007 with a dual degree in French and Journalism, I moved to Austin hoping to find a job where I would use my French and Journalism degrees. However, it was difficult to find a job in my field of study. I started working for a small business where I spent the next seven years learning as much as I could about running a small business including accounting, budgeting, marketing and sales.

I recently started a new job with a medium sized software company called Zoho. I never thought my French would come in handy while living in Austin, but this new position, as product marketing manager, had a surprise for me. After one week of training, I was asked to go to France because I was the only one in our corporate office who spoke French. Giving two presentations (in French) to a group of French businessmen and women was very intimidating. I also had the opportunity to translate during a trade show for my colleagues who did not speak French. How glad I was that I had lived and studied abroad for several years and was already familiar with the French transportation system and culture!

One of my hobbies is blogging about music and interviewing bands. So, while I was in France, I had the opportunity to see the French band, Yules, in concert and later got to interview them for my blog.

While I could never have predicted what my career path would hold or the opportunities I would have from studying abroad and working in small business, I am thankful for the twists and turns that have made up my story.

As I continue my journey, I am learning to enjoy each step and what it has to offer. It might not always be what I think it should be, but there's a reason for it. Plus, you just never know when that French will come in handy! – Laura Burrus

Heather Darnell, BA Classics & Music, 2011

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As an undergraduate, I served as an officer with the Classical Society and completed a major research project on ancient Greek music. I also represented the classics department by studying abroad at the Mediterranean Center for the Arts and Sciences in Syracuse, Sicily. In addition to my studies, I fostered my love for the humanities by working as a student assistant at the TTU Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

After graduation, I accepted an internship with the Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections in Washington, DC. where I worked with leading archivists and curators to develop a Smithsonian Music Initiative to increase the access of music resources across the institution.

I went on to graduate from the University of Maryland with a master's degree in library science. Upon graduation, I completed a highly competitive fellowship with the Dance Heritage Coalition. I participated in a practicum at Harvard University Houghton Library, learning about preservation and digitization strategies for historical collections.

Through classical studies, my professors at Texas Tech constantly challenged my worldview, encouraging me to critically analyze problems, think abstractly, and develop unique solutions and perspectives. The Classical Society provided a gateway for my love of public education and outreach, contributing to my decision to become an archivist. As I continue my career, I hope to give back to classics by promoting their importance through the provision of accessible information. - Heather Darnell

Trey Hill, BA German, 1981; MA German, 1983

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After 27 years as an assistant criminal district attorney for Lubbock County, I have taken on a second job. I am now an adjunct professor of German in the Department of Language & Literature at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. The class meets Monday nights for face-to-face instruction and is a hybrid with some of the instruction done online through Wayland's system.

Meeting only once a week with beginning German students has been challenging; not just because of the 80+ mile round-trip. Learning new technologies in language instruction is challenging (we didn't have computers & disks last time I taught German [1985]) as is trying to maintain proficiency of the students with only one class meeting per week. Some new English words have come into German since 1985 too! –Trey Hill

Stephen Wagner, BA General Studies – Spanish Concentration, 2011

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I would have to say that my life truly began the day I decided to toss a few essentials into my backpack and take a three month hitchhiking trip around the United States with no set plans. After thumbing my way from coast to coast twice, I returned to Texas Tech for the fall semester with a renewed focus and a distinct realization that one does not have to be rich or famous to see the world.

Upon graduating with a B.A. of General Studies with a focus on English, Spanish and Sociology, and with the inspiration gleaned from the travel stories of a few of my favorite professors, I decided that I was going to get out there and see the world for myself. Since December of 2011, I have hitchhiked, sailed, bussed, flown and walked my way through 26 countries while on breaks from my work as a wild land firefighter during the summer months in the U.S.

I am very thankful for the development of my Spanish language proficiency that I attained through Tech's foreign language program. The advantage of this life skill became especially obvious to me while I was teaching high school English in southern Spain where, unlike most other western European countries, hardly anybody spoke a word of English. As I currently sit writing this piece in a coffee shop on a rainy November afternoon in Tirana, Albania I have a hard time listing all of the positive things I have gained through my travels. I would like to encourage my fellow Red Raiders to find their own way to get out there and dive into other cultures without insulating themselves too much with fancy resorts, all-inclusive vacation packages, or booze cruises. Bring an open mind and an open heart, leave your prejudices or preconceived notions at home, and always look for a way to make a positive contribution to the places you visit. I promise it's worth it! - Stephen Wagner