UVa-Wise’s language department welcomed two new professors last semester. Veronica Rodriguez and Joseph Kern are experiencing the dynamic of UVa-Wise for their first time this year and both have had a positive experience thus far.
Rodriguez went to college in Mexico at a state university in Puebla where she received a bachelor’s in teaching foreign languages. She earned her master’s degree in teaching foreign languages at the University of Delaware. She then decided to attend University of Maryland and got a master’s degree in Latin American literature there. She received her Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin Madison where she specialized in colonial studies. She now teaches Spanish here at the college.
“All of my family is in Mexico,” Rodroguez said. “I am the only one who is here.” She says that they come to visit often and she enjoys getting to spend time with them. Rodriguez says that southwest Virginia is “different.” She says, “I really like the mountains and people have been very nice. I wasn’t expecting that.” She also found the people here to be very welcome despite the isolation.
“I like students here a lot.” She studies indigenous cultures and lan- guages for her research, and her goal is to “get a fellowship at a major library and do something with the manuscripts they have there” Rodriguez says. When she’s not teaching, Rodriguez likes to work out and read all different genres of literature.
Joseph Kern completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Louisville and also completed a year studying abroad in Spain. From there, Kern attended the University of Arizona to earn his masters and doctoral degrees. He now also teaches Spanish here at the college alongside Rodriguez. Kern is very close to his family who still reside in Louisville, and they try to see each other every month or so. “The biggest change is that it’s rural,” Kern said of his new home. “ I am very familiar with this part of the country growing up in Louisville, so it felt like coming home.”
Kern says that so far his first year has been “really great” and he has been “really happy” here. He also sings in all three choirs on cam- pus this year and is going to Carnagie Hall with the choir soon.
Both professors encourage students to take at least one Spanish class before their college career ends.