Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Undergraduate Spotlight: Gloria Peña-Spener

Wed, April 3, 2019
Undergraduate Spotlight: Gloria Peña-Spener
Gloria Peña-Spencer

My name is Gloria Peña-Spener. I am a Senior Economics and Spanish double major graduating May 2019 from El Paso, Texas. I play piccolo in the Longhorn Band which takes a lot of time but I couldn’t imagine my 4 years at UT without being in band. I grew up on the border and my dad is from Mexico City, so Spanish has been influencing my life ever since I was very young but I never really knew how interested I was in the language until I came to UT and took my first Spanish class. When I’m not studying rehearsing I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring all the cool things in Austin like the greenbelt.


Why did you decide to major in our department?


I decided to major in Spanish because of the Heritage Learner courses that the department offered. I took Spanish 604 and I enjoyed it because it was geared towards people like me, who weren’t native speakers but also had experience with the language. The course made me fall in love with Spanish and I decided I wanted to continue studying it.


What was your favorite class (or classes!) and why?


My favorite classes were the Heritage learner classes like 327N and the Linguistics class 330L. 327N taught me lots of useful skills, and improved my writing significantly. 330L was the first linguistics class I took and I enjoyed how it was a fusion between science, language, and culture.


What is the most important/interesting thing you learned through your coursework in our department?


I really liked learning about the connection between culture and language. It was interesting to learn how the history of different countries influenced the vocabulary and accents that lead to the different variations of Spanish throughout the world.


What have you learned about yourself through coursework in our department?


It helped me discover my cultural identity as a Mexican-American and made me realize that the way I speak Spanish, as a heritage learner, is valid. I learned that every Spanish speaker has their own background, culture, and story that influences the way they use and speak the language.


What are some of the skills or abilities you have learned through your coursework in our department?


I learned how to write a Resume and Cover Letter in Spanish. I also got experience getting interviewed in Spanish and interviewing people. I took a Business Spanish class that gave me useful vocabulary and cultural awareness that is good to know when working in a business environment in Spanish.


In what way(s) will the knowledge and skills you have cultivated through your coursework in our department help you in your personal and professional life after graduation?



In my personal life, the skills I have cultivated will help me have the confidence to communicate more in Spanish with my dad and my family in Mexico. After graduation, I hope to work in the non-profit sector and help Hispanic and immigrant communities. The skills that I learned through my course work will help me out in my career in the nonprofit sector.


Is there anything else you would like to add?


In Spring 2018, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain and that was an amazing experience. I got to see so much of what I learned about in 328C Literature and Culture, in person and I experienced learning a new variation of Spanish. The accent in Andalucía was very different to what I was used to and I enjoyed the new challenge of learning this type o

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