SHS graduate recognized as Indiana outstanding college student


Emma Hughes, a Southport graduate now attending Indiana University, has been recognized by the State of Indiana for her accomplishments in the Spanish language. She received the 2015 Indiana Outstanding College Student of Spanish Award, presented by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).  To qualify, she had to meet the GPA requirement, study abroad, and demonstrate extensive, successful  use of the language.

Hughes began studying Spanish during her eighth grade year in 2008. She decided to study the language because she knew that with the growing number of Spanish speakers in the United States, being bilingual would benefit her employment and career options as an adult.

Learning a language is challenging, but Hughes has
discovered strategies to help her practice and perfect her speaking skills. For her, repetition is everything. In order to enhance her vocabulary, she would practice extensively both by writing and speaking. Communicating with teachers and native Spanish speakers has been one of the ways in which to hone her skills and knowledge of the Spanish language as well as to improve her grammar and pronunciation.

Hughes said that she had great support throughout her high school and college language studies.  Miss O’Connor and Ms. Powell, SHS Spanish teachers, have served as mentors, along with Linguistic Professor, Laura Gurzynski-Weiss from Indiana University who also helped her in ways that allowed her to learn the language at a more profound level.

Learning Spanish has benefitted her in ways that she had never
imagined.  As a result of the language, Hughes feels that the way she
communicates with others has improved. The ability to be able to speak with others about any particular topic in a foreign language also boosts her confidence.

“It gave me new ways to meet people and achieve the goals that I thought were previously impossible,” Hughes said.

As a high school student, Hughes did not believe that she would have such success with her language studies. The more she discovered about the language, the more intrigued she became.

In the near future, Hughes would like to teach Spanish as a
graduate student. Because of her level of proficiency, she believes strongly that the language will open many doors for her professionally and will have a positive impact on her future. Before settling into her career, she plans to further her knowledge of the language by teaching English in Spain for the next few years and completing a Master’s degree program in Spanish.