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Honors Grad Takes the World by StormAshleigh Hess, a 2009 OC Honors Program graduate, has left Oklahoma to explore the Spanish world.
During her time at Oklahoma Christian, Ashleigh taught English to several Spanish-speaking staff members and helped start Spanish Chapel. She was involved in numerous educational and cultural organizations, including Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Spanish Club and programs through the Department of Language and Literature.
“I came to OC with a goal to major in teaching English, with an interest in studying Spanish, and with a desire to learn so I’d be prepared for my future,” Ashleigh said. “But my education at OC became about much more than a career. My mentors and professors in the Language and Literature department really challenged me to use my interests and passions as a way to serve my community and show the love of Christ to others.”
Ashleigh said she always dreamed of traveling to Spain after all the time she spent learning about the Spanish culture. Faculty members encouraged Ashleigh to study abroad, so she applied to the Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica through the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
“This is something that forever marked my heart, leaving it not only in Costa Rica, but also in Panama and Nicaragua,” Ashleigh said. “It was life-changing to learn about political, religious and economic history, sustainable living, indigenous cultures and languages, as well as the day-to-day lives of the people through the eyes of another culture and the ears of another language.”
Those experiences led Ashleigh to work towards her Master of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.
She becme involved in a local community of El Salvadorian adolescents, giving her an outlook on life from a multicultural perspective. A friend introduced her to the Teaching English in Spain Program, an opportunity that would allow Ashleigh to live out her dream of traveling to Spain.
Ashleigh is in her second year at a primary bilingual school in Madrid. She said she sees the opportunity to create a successful environment for students to learn, think, understand and communicate, while giving teachers the tools to educate globally-minded citizens through diverse experiences.
“My faith is what carries me to serve multicultural and multilingual students and communities, and help them continue to grow,” she said. “Whether my journey will lead me to pursuing a Ph.D., teaching in my hometown, or exploring more about political and economic impacts in Latin America, I’m unsure. But God is using me to connect with people in a one-to-one level, creating relationships and relating his love.”
By Kelly Ferguson (13)