It's a Win-Win! | Staff Spotlight on Student Assistants Rachel Brown, Michelle Vega and Lisa Zeta

Submitted by Holly J Winters on

Written by Irene Panke Hopkins

Photo left to right: Lisa Zeta, Rachel Brown, Michelle Vega

When Spanish & Portuguese Studies advertised for a part-time student assistant, the number of qualified applicants made the decision very difficult. So difficult in fact, that the division scrambled to create additional positions. “We couldn’t hire everyone,” said Holly Winters, Administrative Coordinator, “but we couldn’t let all of this amazing talent go either!”

In addition to hiring Lisa Zeta to work in the main office, the Cervantes Institute hired Rachel Brown, and the Center for Spanish Studies hired Michelle Vega. All three students have made an enormous difference in the productivity and outreach of the department.

Rachel Brown | Student Assistant, Aula Cervantes Institute

Rachel Brown, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and Economics, works ten hours a week in the Aula Cervantes Institute. Brown promotes cultural events, designing and hanging posters. She updates the Institute’s website and helps with the DELE Exam registration process. Brown has even visited Spanish classes to promote the DELE, one of the main focuses of Aula Cervantes.

“I don’t know how María Luisa (Miguéliz, Director of Aula Cervantes Seattle), has done all this work by herself,” marveled Brown. It’s a win-win according to Brown. The fact that Miguéliz speaks to Brown primarily in Spanish gives her an additional ten hours a week of conversation and has increased her fluency. “I am even learning Spanish tech vocab!” she laughed.

“I’m more than happy with Rachel’s assistance,” said Miguéliz. “She is proactive and learns really quickly. I’ll miss her when she goes to Cádiz.”

Brown admitted that she didn’t know much about Aula Cervantes prior to working there. “I think it is good for a student to be involved,” she said. “A student perspective is an effective way to spread the word to other students about activities being offered.” Brown has become a true believer and a willing promoter of the work. “This is a great department and working for the Cervantes Institute has made me more knowledgeable about the Institute and the Spanish Division.”

Brown, who will spend fall quarter in Cádiz, hopes to work for the Cervantes Institute through the summer.

Michelle Vega | Student Assistant, Center for Spanish Studies

Michelle Vega, a junior pursuing a BS in Electrical Engineering, was another applicant the division could not pass up. She has been working for the Center for Spanish Studies since November of 2013.

Vega, a heritage speaker, helps Director, Eva González-Abad, with a variety of projects. “Recently, my main project involved processing applications for Auxiliares de Conversación Extranjeros en España 2014,” said Vega. Applicants to this program are hoping to be teaching assistants for English conversational courses in Spain. “It was exciting to be a part of the process and see that people from all over have a common desire to help teach English and learn Spanish themselves as well,” she added.

Like the other student assistants, Vega is helping to promote the work of the Division of Spanish and Portuguese Studies and, in particular the Center for Spanish Studies. “I know the work I do helps Ms. González to accomplish more and this reflects positively on the efforts of the Center,” she stated.

“Michelle has been instrumental in helping the Center process and file almost a thousand applications for the very popular Student Ambassador program, which sends over 2,000 students to Spanish schools,” said González-Abad. “She is dependable, quick to learn, flexible with our unpredictable schedule and great to work with.”

Vega is pleased to be in a job that allows her to practice Spanish. “I'm in a major where Hispanics are a minority so I can't always converse with my peers in my mother tongue,” she reflected. “I enjoy working in this environment and with people that help promote the importance of Spanish and multilingualism in general,” said Vega. “I know the skills I learn at this job are transferrable and will help me with my career because engineers meet with a diverse clientele.”

Lisa Zeta | Student Assistant, SPS Main Office

Lisa Zeta hesitated applying for the position because she was in her first quarter of her freshman year and didn’t want to get in over her head. Despite reservations, she put her resume together, applied and got the job. “I think what pushed me over the top was that I was studying both Spanish and Portuguese,” said Zeta.

Zeta works ten hours per week, sorting mail, making copies and scans, designing and posting flyers and doing social media publicity for departmental events. “Publicizing our events is important to me because I want others to know how great our department is. My work supports the department by allowing faculty and staff to focus on larger tasks,” she said. Zeta helped with the recent play production and is currently working with the Events Committee to plan this year’s graduation party. Her language skills in both Spanish and Portuguese enable Zeta to help visiting students.

With her just-declared Spanish major, Zeta plans to teach. “As someone who aspires to pursue academia in the Spanish field, it is great to work in an environment where people are passionate about language education.” Zeta is grateful for all she has learned from Holly Winters, Administrative Coordinator and 100/200-level Adviser.

“I knew that having a student assistant in the office would be helpful,” said Winters, “but I didn't anticipate how much I would come to rely on Lisa this year. Her service to the department has been flawless and her enthusiasm for Spanish and Portuguese contributes positive energy to the staff vibe.”

Zeta hopes to continue working through the summer when she will be taking an intensive Arabic class. In August, she begins a year-long study abroad in Cádiz, Spain.  She will work there, as well, as an English teaching assistant at the UCA campus in Jerez.