Department of Spanish and Portuguese

College of Letters & Science
HomeKaren T.

Karen T.

Major(s) and Certificate(s): 


Graduation Year: 
Current city: 
Current state/province/country (if outside US): 
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?: 

I never left! In 2005 I became the Department of Spanish & Portuguese's first professional academic advisor. I have worked with countless students since then, guiding them through their academic career.

Language(s) : 
What motivated you to study this/these languages?: 

Spanish had always come easily for me so it was a no-brainer when I got to college. At the time, the Spanish major required a second Romance language so I took Italian 201. It was taught by, to this day, one of my favorite instructors, Professor Tom Cravens. His passion for the language and the absolute joy with which he taught the class prompted me to continue learning Italian on my own.

How have these languages enriched your life?: 

I love being able to communicate with more of the world. I love the cultural understanding that oftentimes comes with learning another language. I love being able to read books, watch movies, or listen to music in the Spanish language and actually understand what is going on! As a mom, I love being able to teach my children another language.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?: 

You mean, aside from the professors being absolutely amazing? I loved the small class sizes. I loved getting to know the faculty early on and having them remember me a year later when I took another class with them. It was an experience I never expected at such a large university.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?: 

I use Spanish at least weekly in my current position. I get emails and calls from students or from people in the community looking for resources. The latter makes my whole day; I love knowing that the person I just helped might otherwise have gone without had the person who answered my phone not spoken Spanish. I use Spanish regularly at home; my children do not yet have a full grasp of the language so it is useful to be able to talk about things we do not want them knowing about in a language they cannot yet easily follow.

What advice do you have for current language students?: 

Don't lose it. Practice whenever you can. Study abroad if at all possible. Another language will open doors you never expected to open!

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?: 
I always loved the number 14 (catorce) and the letter y (y griega). I sound like I'm on Sesame Street. "Despues de los años mil, torna el agua a su carril." / Don't ever let embarrassment or regret stop you. In 100 years we will be dead anyway.