Languages & Cultures

Lang & Cultures

2020 LAS Awards

Aimee Dalton
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - French
Even before trying any foreign languages, Aimee always had a passion for language. It was only by taking French classes that she learned this passion could lead her outside the realm of English, both in her studies and career options. This led to pursuing a French minor and eventually becoming a French tutor at the UCCS Excel Languages Center. However, Aimee quickly realized that the amount of French this offered did not satisfy her desire to learn and grow in the language. This realization, along with encouragement from peers and faculty, led to a degree change, and Aimee will be graduating with an Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, a degree that allows her to combine her studies in English and French. She hopes to be able to teach either French or English as a foreign language, and plans to use her French in order to explore the world by working and travelling abroad. French faculty found both the high quality of her coursework and dedication to working with and promoting French outside the classroom particularly noteworthy. In addition to her service to the French program as tutor, she was a volunteer at community outreach events (the Manitou High School World Language and Culture Night) and even “starred” in a video presented at the UCCS Sustainability Summit where she reflected on the value of studying sustainability in French. x!
Israel Wheatley
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - French
srael is a graduating senior at UCCS majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on French and German, and he will also be obtaining a minor in Film Studies. Since high school, Israel has found his life passion to be language learning — French and German being his primary languages, aside from his native English. He pursued study abroad options and honed his language skills through a semester at the University of Quebec, Montreal in French and a summer at the University of Berlin in German. In his second year at UCCS, Israel also discovered his love for film. He has spent the past year writing film reviews for the UCCS student newspaper, The Scribe, and intends on using his skills to continue reviewing. He hopes to run a media review blog this summer. Israel also demonstrated the skills he had attained by working as a translator/interpretor for a French technical company during his Junior year. Israel’s next step will be in Boulder, CO, where he will be pursuing a masters degree in French literature. He will be student teaching beginner French classes and plans on obtaining his PhD to teach French at the college level.
Michael Kemp
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - German
Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis on Global Politics, Michael Kemp also excelled with significant accomplishment in German studies. His impressive GPA in the field suggests what his cultural interests and efforts have borne out, that he is a “natural” not only in language acquisition but with the intellectual prowess and sophistication that framed his studies of the history and aspects of German and Austrian culture, art, literature and cinema. As a “heritage” German speaker always ready to support the German program and the Department of Languages and Cultures, Michael has served as the leading German tutor in the campus Excel Languages and Social Sciences Center, where helped create overall interest not only in the German language, but the varied cultures of the German-speaking countries. His outreach on campus included visiting classes and informing students of the resources available for the study of the language and opportunities of a semester abroad at German or Austrian universities. His work increased visitation to the Center and helped in retention of students in the German program. He served as president of the Languages and Cultures Department German club and was subsequently initiated in the UCCS Sigma Pi chapter of the National German Honor Society, for which he then served as Chapter President until graduation in December 2019. His efforts there included building membership and creating multiple events ranging from film screenings to the now traditional German Club Oktoberfest held on campus at Clyde’s. Michael has impressively applied his German expertise to his study of Global Politics, wherein he created several research papers on German economic development, the cold-war division of Germany, and a comparative study of the development of German and Russian economic systems in the last century. He has also concentrated on learning another family heritage language – Polish. Michael relates that if it were not for the pandemic, he “would be preparing to leave for Germany to pursue continued education and a career there.” His goal is to link his forthcoming Master’s studies in international politics and business to contribute to the more financially oriented environment of politics in the European Union. Given his family history of military service in both the U.S. and German armed forces, Michael is also considering officer training in the German Bundeswehr, for possible NATO deployment including United Nations humanitarian missions. Michael’s options are as notable as his studies at UCCS have been. The vision he holds of his future in public and government service will certainly not be dampened by the current international crisis. The Department of Languages and Cultures and the German program take great pride in wishing our award-winning student Alles Gute!
Shane Murrish
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Japanese
Shane Murrish is a senior at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where he is majoring in East Asian Studies with a focus on Japan. Born in 1993 in Okinawa, Japan at Kadena Air Base, he grew up with an early interest in popular Japanese television shows and culture. Shane dedicated his college and university work to learning about Japan. While studying Japanese at Pikes Peak Community College, he took an interest in filling out entire pages of notebook journals for Kanji writing practice. At PPCC’s final showing of the Japanese play, The Last Samurai, he worked as the stage manager and also as an instructor’s aid in the Japanese class for two years. In transferring to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Shane worked to successfully establish the Japanese Club as a secretary, then as vice president at the start of 2020. Most recently, Shane gave a presentation on Japanese business language (honorific and humble speaking). Also, along with the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado President, Robin Lawrentz, gave a presentation on Japanese business manners and culture hosted by the College of Business. When he is not doing university work, Shane spends time with his family, learning about futuristic technology, exercising, and speaking with Japanese people to see how he can make learning English intuitive. Shane was chosen as the outstanding student in Japanese for his active participation in class. He is confident in speaking Japanese and willing to participate in class discussions. Shane is usually the first to respond when the instructor asks questions. His interests and enthusiasm in learning Japanese inspire other students to participate in class activities and speak Japanese. Also, Shane has strong leadership skills to organize study groups and Japanese Club activities.
Shawn Murrish
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Japanese
Shawn is a senior pursuing a degree in East Asian Studies at UCCS. His favorite subject is Japanese Language, which he acquired an interest for while growing up in a multicultural family. After graduation, he plans on moving to Japan to work as an English teacher, with future aspirations of becoming a translator or working in the Japanese tech industry. Along with his brother Shane, Shawn also assisted in establishing the Japanese Club. As a teaching assistant, he helped students in the beginners’ Japanese class. Shawn was chosen as an outstanding student in Japanese because of his meticulous assignment work. He is attentive in class and a highly motivated learner. Once he stated that extensive Japanese study at home is the key to improving his language skills. It is important to keep exercising on your own in order to retain what you have learned in class. Shawn practices his policy truthfully, and his language skills have rapidly improved.
Savannah Santiago
Outstanding Undergraduate Student - Spanish
Savannah Santiago is graduating with a degree in Biomedical studies and a minor in Spanish as well as premedical preparation. She is originally from San Diego California but came out to Colorado Springs for academics and to run cross country and track for UCCS! Savannah absolutely loved her biomed classes and wishes to pursue a career in the medical field, however her Spanish classes were the classes that really impacted her time at UCCS. Savannah started learning Spanish in elementary school and continued learning through the end of high school. Once beginning college at UCCS, she took a little break from Spanish, however, after a year she couldn’t stay away and started relearning her Spanish skills and taking Spanish classes once again! "My Spanish classes both challenged me and broadened my horizons. Through my Spanish minor I was able to take courses on history, culture, literature, art, advanced grammar, film and so much more. I would have never been exposed to these types of classes within just my biomedical degree. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the Spanish program and I am excited to use my language skills in the professional field." After graduation, Savannah has been accepted to the Peace Corps and will be serving a 2-year commitment working in a hospital and teaching Spanish/English in Costa Rica. She has also submitted her application to medical school and plans to attend medical school following her return to the United States. "It is an honor to receive this award and I would like to thank the entire Spanish department for their support in all of my endeavors."