The Department of Spanish & Portuguese is delighted to announce this year’s Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship Fund recipients. Marsha Gray Ehrlich was a former graduate student in our Department, and an inspirational teacher during her long professional career. She received a Master of Arts, with a major in Spanish, on August 17, 1968. She carried the preparation she received from our Department and her joy for Spanish to New York, where she taught Spanish and Latin in public schools for more than thirty years, before retiring in 2002. Ms. Ehrlich carried her love and passion for languages inside and outside the classroom, inspiring colleagues and family alike.
Our first recipient, Alyssa Meurer, a junior studying sociology and Spanish says, “I am grateful and honored to be selected for the Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship. For me, speaking Spanish is not just a personal convenience; it is a means to facilitate communication and foster relationships with those I serve. I have been able to connect with members of my community as I help mitigate food insecurity through Food Recovery Network and Despensa de la Paz, and work to enhance jail visitation for children and their parents through a UW2020 research project. Continuing to build my Spanish fluency through the help of this award will better equip me to serve marginalized communities, particularly the Latinx community, in my future career as a public defender and policy advocate.”
Our second recipient, Hannah Fenelon, a senior studying entomology and Spanish with a certificate in Global Health writes, “The Grow Program is an organization that supports people in preventing and managing chronic health conditions by providing free fruits and vegetables to Madison community members. Co-directing and co-founding this program has influenced my undergraduate experience immensely, and the program would not be nearly as successful without my Spanish education. Each time I reached out to the Spanish department, whether that be students or faculty, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement and support for the Grow Program and its mission. Offering a volunteer-led community program in Spanish is no small feat and would not have been possible without the support from other Spanish students. The Spanish department provided a humanities emphasis throughout my education that has shaped how I see public health and, ultimately, influenced my decision to pursue a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology.”
Our third recipient, Alexandra Bensen, a senior studying International Studies and Spanish with a certificate in Global Health said, “I am extremely honored to be recognized as a recipient of the Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship. To me, learning the Spanish language is more than a method of communication; it’s a means of building bridges over chasms of cultural difference. Multicultural learning, community service, and language studies have been an inflection point upon my academic and personal trajectory as an undergraduate student at UW-Madison. Through my volunteer experiences at the Catholic Multicultural Center, I have been able to connect with people of all cultures and backgrounds in Dane County which has made me recognize the value of community service as a means of inducing multicultural understanding. Having embarked on my undergraduate career during a time when immigration policy has been increasingly politicized, my Spanish experiences inside and outside the classroom have allowed me to combat false narratives with reason and fact. I am extremely grateful for all of the support I have received from my Spanish professors, my family, and the UW-Madison community and I hope to continue the legacy of Marsha Gray as an immigration lawyer.”
We congratulate these students on their sustained commitment to community service.