By Scott Bigelow
For the first time, students at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke can declare Spanish as their major.
This spring, students can major or minor in Spanish language. A teacher certification program in Spanish education is also available.
Last year, North Carolina was second only to Georgia in the growth rate of its Spanish-speaking population, and the time is right to offer a major in Spanish, said Dr. Liliana Wendorff, Coordinator of Spanish languages at UNCP.
"The Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. is growing," Dr. Wendorff said. "And we need to be able to communicate with them."
UNCP is offering 15 Spanish classes, ranging from heritage, language, literature and linguistics. Spanish is UNCP's only language major, and it is part of the Department of English, Languages and Theatre Arts.
Because U.S. trade and business with Mexico, Central America and South America is growing and because of the growing demand for Spanish teachers and translators, there are good job prospects for UNCP's new Spanish majors and minors.
"Spanish is becoming an important tool, and there are many jobs that favor those with degrees in Spanish," said Professor Enrique Porrua. "A degree in Spanish is academic proof that you can speak Spanish and proof that you can communicate."
Freshmen Paul Leone of Connecticut and Somia Beckford of Durham, N.C., are two of the 10 students who have declared Spanish as a major or minor this semester.
"I want to join the Peace Corps after I graduate and go to a country in South America, and this will help," Leone said.
"I'm not sure what I'll do with the degree yet, but I love the language," Beckford said. "Maybe I could translate for the government."
UNC Pembroke's Office of International Programs is offering several travel and study abroad programs in Spain and Mexico over the summer and next semester.
"We're hoping that international exposure will help other language programs on campus grow because business is becoming more international, and it becomes increasingly important to communicate with diverse people," Dr. Wendorff said.
For more information about Spanish at UNCP, please contact Dr. Wendorff at 910.521.6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on travel or student abroad programs, please contact the Office of International Programs at 910.521.6506 or email email@example.com.