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Students in UA Department of Spanish and Portuguese receive awards, scholarships

Mylo+Erickson%2FArizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AStudent+Megan+Lindsey+received+the+GASP+Scholarship+for+Study+Abroad+at+the+Spanish+and+Portuguese+Annual+Award+Convocation.+
Mylo Erickson
Mylo Erickson/Arizona Daily Wildcat Student Megan Lindsey received the GASP Scholarship for Study Abroad at the Spanish and Portuguese Annual Award Convocation.

The UA Department of Spanish and Portuguese celebrated its high-achieving students on Wednesday during its annual award convocation.

Hosted in the UA Poetry Center, professors presented various scholarships and certificates to both undergraduate and graduate students for their study abroad and academic achievements.

Awards included Outstanding Graduating Senior, Academic Excellence for Spring 2013 Phi Beta Kappa and High Honors among others.

“This is a time for us to honor and to celebrate the achievement of our students,” said Yadira Berigan, director of undergraduate studies for the department. “To me this is my favorite day of the whole year because I work a lot organizing this event and one of the biggest things for me is to be able not only to brag about the students, but also … to show off my students.”

One of the first students to be awarded was Zachary Rockov, a physiology senior for his study abroad achievements in Chile.

“Zach [Rockov] I think truly exemplifies what is possible of a study abroad experience,” said
Hannah Collins, minor adviser and assistant to the director of undergraduate studies and study abroad programs, while presenting the award.

When Rockov first arrived in Chile his first semester, he only had a basic knowledge of Spanish, according to Collins.

“His dedication to learning the language was truly evident,” Collins said. “He was very committed to learning the language and the culture, and that paid off. Not only did he conquer the language, but he truly embraced the culture and the experience of what is study abroad.”

Izamar Laguna, a junior studying Spanish with a literature concentration, was presented the Nivea Parsons Scholarship for Study in Brazil by Katia da Costa Bezerra, associate professor for the
Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

“She was never my student, but I met her about three weeks ago and she was struggling between going to Brazil and keeping her job,” da Costa Bezerra said. “She’s a full-time worker and a full-time student.”

Laguna’s letters of recommendation describe her as “mature” and “inquisitive” with a “clear academic agenda,” according to da Costa Bezerra.

As well as working and attending school, Laguna also does community service.

“I was really taken aback, I didn’t expect it,” Laguna said. “I honestly just turned in the paperwork and I was like, ‘Hopefully God will help me this time,’ and I got it.”

Laguna said she got an email confirming she had won the award on Monday, and was totally surprised.

“I worked really hard for it,” Laguna said. “It’s like your hard work has been paid off.”

According to Berigan, the first part of selection for a student award comes from their GPA. Professors are then asked to nominate students from a list of potential awardees. Students are asked to bring in a resume, before the faculty gets together as a committee and decides who is best for each award or scholarship.

“We only not look at the academics, but their community involvement and what are they doing also outside the classroom,” Berigan said.

According to Berigan, more than 45 percent of graduating students from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are graduating with a GPA of 3.5 or better.

Many of these students use their major in Spanish to pair with another major, such as physiology, architecture or law, Berigan said.

“That’s what makes them outstanding students,” Berigan said. “I’m so proud of them.”

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