Congratulations to our 2023 Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship Fund Recipients

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.

Graduating senior William Voigt took advantage of not one, but several opportunities to work with Spanish-speaking and marginalized children. From a summer school opportunity in his hometown, to a parish program in the poorest neighborhood in all of Spain while studying abroad, to an after-school program here in Madison, he built relationships with these students while helping them succeed in both large and small ways. Upon learning he had been selected, William had this to say: “I am deeply humbled and honored to be a 2023 Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship Fund recipient. As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, I have had the amazing opportunity to put my Spanish language skills to use in a way that has allowed me to grow as a Spanish speaker and give back to my community, no matter where that may be. I am especially grateful for my experience as a volunteer with Proyecto Maparra in Seville, Spain, where I worked alongside dedicated community members and instructors to promote education and social inclusion among students from marginalized communities. In my time working with Spanish-speaking students of various ages and from diverse backgrounds, I can confidently say that they taught me much more than I could ever teach them. Commitment to public service lasts a lifetime, so I am looking forward to a career in medicine in which I can utilize Spanish to communicate and form strong connections with patients. Lastly, I extend a huge thank you to the Marsh Gray Ehrlich Scholarship Foundation and the faculty within the UW-Madison Department of Spanish & Portuguese! These world-class professors have played a significant role in my development as a college student and a human being.

Senior Inès Bengana has focused since a young age on helping people. She was recognized for her work as an interpreter in a free medical clinic in Madison helping the resident doctors provide patient care to a largely Latinx population. Additionally, she has volunteered with her high school to discuss Spanish in the real world and encourage Spanish study as a way of understanding and connecting with Latinx culture. She says, “I am exceptionally grateful and honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Marsha Gray Ehrlich scholarship this year. The UW-Madison [Department of Spanish & Portuguese] has equipped me with knowledge not only on the Spanish language, but the cultural and linguistic diversity that exists within Spanish-speaking populations, which has allowed me to apply Spanish in a meaningful way in the community. Volunteering at a free medical clinic working with and interpreting for Spanish speaking patients has opened up my eyes to the very real struggles of immigrants as well as the language barriers that may exist for them. This experience has had a strong impact on me and reaffirmed my goal as a hopeful future physician to serve those from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I would like to thank the Marsha Gray Ehrlich Scholarship Fund, the UW-Madison [Department of Spanish & Portuguese] , Belinda Bjerkvold, who planted the seeds for my love of Spanish, Charlotte Wiley, who gives me constant reassurance and confidence in my Spanish, and my family and friends for undying support.”

We congratulate these students on their sustained commitment to community service.