Above: International business major Justin Le in Trujillo, Spain during the spring 2022 semester.

Following a two-year hiatus because of the global pandemic, College of Charleston students are once again able to broaden their worldview through the many study abroad programs CofC offers. The Department of Hispanic Studies led the way during the spring 2022 semester, sending 12 students to its signature program in Trujillo, Spain, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2021. Two more programs are running in Trujillo this summer. 

The Department of Hispanic Studies’ philosophy is that there is no better way to broaden students’ global vision, mental horizons and improve their language skills than to study in a country where the language of study is native to its citizens. The College’s students studying Spanish and Portuguese have had access to study abroad programs in Spain, Chile, Cuba, Argentina and Brazil over the years.

Study abroad is a growing differentiator of the CofC educational experience, and students participating in these programs often seek scholarships or other financial aid to help offset the costs of these life-transforming experiences. Fortunately, generous donors have established and supported full and partial scholarships for the department’s study abroad programs.

“As we continue to support the scholarships already established, we plan to increase the amounts awarded and create new opportunities and initiatives,” says Sarah Lee Beck, chair of the Hispanic Studies Advisory Board. “The more donations and support we receive from the community, the more we can give back to the students.” 

The Hispanic Studies Advisory Board is comprised, in part, by alumni and friends of the department who share its vision of promoting global fluency. Collectively and individually, the board members have established four scholarships, one of them endowed, in just over four years. They are also working to establish internship opportunities to help the College prepare students for the world beyond graduation. 

The Hispanic Studies Advisory Board Trujillo Study Abroad Scholarship provides a full scholarship to a student each spring. The 2022 recipient was Justin Le, an international business major and Spanish minor from Greenville, South Carolina. 

students in trujillo, spain

Students in Trujillo, Spain.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to study abroad,” says Le. “The financial aid from the Hispanic Studies Advisory Board Scholarship solidified my decision to take part in the program. Without support from Esther Ferguson, the Advisory Board and the rest of the Hispanic studies department, I would not have been able to balance the financial obstacles of the program with my studies. They all have given me a chance to make my parents proud and make me confident in my ability to succeed. For students like me, an experience like this is unforgettable.” 

The Hispanic Studies Study Abroad Scholarship, yet another funding opportunity provided by the department and its advisory board, is a partial, financial need and merit-based scholarship supporting undergraduate students’ participation in programs in Buenos Aires and Santiago each year. 

In addition to scholarships supporting study abroad experiences, the department offers the Casa Hispana Scholarship to an undergraduate Spanish major or minor living in La Casa Hispana, the residential living and learning community on CofC’s campus. The primary purpose of La Casa Hispana is to promote proficiency in the Spanish language and a greater understanding and appreciation of the many cultures that make up the Hispanic world. The partial scholarship is based on merit and financial need. The recipient of the La Casa Hispana Scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year was Annabela Paneda, a Spanish and foreign language education double major from Easley, South Carolina. 

“It has been a wonderful experience living in the Casa Hispana, especially with me being a native Spanish speaker and interacting with others who also want to speak the language,” says Paneda. “I have been wanting to live in the Casa Hispana since I first heard about it when I came to visit the College on an 8th grade field trip. It is a wonderful casa, and I very much enjoyed how close I got with my housemates, and I believe living in a dorm such as this is very much a unique experience while living on campus here at CofC. This is also a wonderful thing to experience, especially if you cannot travel abroad.”