Staff Spotlight: Jonathan Deen, Ph.D.
Administrator, The TTU Center in Seville
Jonathan Deen was born in Austin, Texas, in 1983, raised in Dallas (Lake Highlands), and came to TTU in 2002 because he really liked the TTU campus and wanted a change of scenery. He freely admits that he bounced around from major to major until Donna Wright (Seville Center Coordinator) steered him to The Center in Seville so that he could fulfill his language requirement in Communications. After only two weeks in Seville he met Maria, the woman of his dreams, on a bus ride home from class. He changed his major to Spanish, graduated, then returned to Seville where he married Maria and worked in sales for a year before reconnecting with Dr. Doug Inglis, Director of The TTU Center in Seville, and Dr. Lorum Stratton, Professor of Spanish in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures (CMLL). He and Maria have been married now for 8 years and have two beautiful little girls, Joy, 3 years old, and Amy, 1 year old.
What is your academic background?
I started work on my MA in Spanish in 2008 and have been teaching Spanish for CMLL ever since. When the coordinator position opened at The Center in Seville in 2011, I threw my name in the hat and luckily they pulled it out (note: Jonathan has recently been promoted from Coordinator to Administrator). It's a fun and dynamic position that really fits well with my skill sets (practical intelligence, multi-tasking, sociability, and enthusiasm). Just this August I finally finished my Ph.D. in Spanish Literature. So, BA, MA and Ph.D. all at Tech... the perennial TTU student/employee!
How did you first learn about the TTU Center in Seville? How did your experience at the TTU Center in Seville affect your personal/professional life?
I knew I wanted to take Spanish, and after Donna introduced me to the TTU Center in Seville, I went from being a wayward undergrad with no direction and a terrible GPA (not sure how I made the study abroad cut!) to a 4.0 for the remainder of my undergraduate degree, and the two graduate degrees that followed. My wife played a big part in that: she was in medical school and so I felt I had to clean up my act to impress her! But apart from that, doing well in Spanish showed me that I could do well in school if I put my mind to it. Of course, the TTU Center played a pivotal role as well, as being fully immersed in the language and culture is so conducive to learning. I reorganized my study habits, took an interest in what I was learning, and applied effort that was being wasted elsewhere. My semester at The TTU Center in Seville was the turning point for that lifestyle change.
What is your role at the TTU Center in Seville? How do you see the Center furthering TTU's strategic plan?
My role at The TTU Center in Seville is pretty wide-ranging. Some of my responsibilities include handling student housing operations, setting up and conducting in-country orientations, organizing logistics for and leading group excursions, setting up foreign health insurance for students and accompanying them to the doctor when they're sick, managing The TTU Center in Seville's web presence and assisting in accounting operations—among other things in the day-to-day needs of The Center.
There is noteworthy potential for The TTU Center in Seville in several areas. For one, while we continue to invest significant effort in recruiting TTU students to study abroad in Seville, our focus will spread to place emphasis on recruiting Spanish students to study abroad in Lubbock and form part of the Texas Tech University student body. By collaborating with TTUISD, this new initiative will offer Spanish students the opportunity to seek an American high school diploma through The TTU Center in Seville. This Texas diploma and coexistence between young Spaniards and TTU college students on our Seville campus will familiarize them with American culture and encourage them to continue their studies with Texas Tech. This falls directly in line with our strategic plan to bring new (international) students to our university.
Anything else that you would like to add?
I believe that we all possess a unique skill that can sometimes be hard to find in high school, college, and even in adulthood, especially when falling in line with what everyone else is doing or indifferently taking the direction we've been told to take. I especially think that at a "college" age it's really easy to just go through the motions and fall into a professional or personal situation that you don't necessarily excel at, or which doesn't allow you to reach your full potential because you're not doing what you might be best at. Study Abroad helped me find those skills, and my experience at The TTU Center in Seville motivated me to refine and fine-tune them. That is what most fulfills and excites me about my job, helping provide that life changing opportunity for our students.