Assistant Professor of Spanish
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
toll-free: (800) 456-9009
In Their Own Words
Students of Spanish
Mackenna Lee Cummings
Class of 2015
Why did you decide to study Spanish in college?
Originally, my taking Spanish was solely for the purpose of completing my language credit. I realized after taking my first year how much beauty there was in the language that gave me so much trouble in high school. The following year I decided to minor in Spanish and also study abroad for a month in Spain. My Spanish improved more than I ever imagined while I was abroad and it helped me realize that I couldn't stop learning Spanish after that trip. Being able to communicate in another language is an incredible skill and becomes much easier to learn in an environment where it is so necessary.
What is your favorite Spanish word, term or expression? Why?
My favorite Spanish word is actually Spanish slang, mija. It is a combination of mi hija, which means my daughter. Growing up, my great-grandmother, who is of Mexican decent, would call my sister and I mija. It was the first bit of Spanish I learned, while not being proper Spanish. It is also a word that connects me with my family.
What is your favorite Spanish speaking country and why?
I have visited two Spanish speaking countries. It is so hard to choose my favorite between them because they truly can't be compared. I went to Spain during my sophomore year for the month of January. The culture is very relaxed, they rise late (something that I definitely could live with) and live fully. The history in Madrid is incredible. But I also visited Ecuador during my junior year. It is much less city and beautiful in a wild way. The people are welcoming and the mountains are breathtaking. I can't choose between touring the Alhambra and Cathedrals of Spain, and hiking Kushi Waira and Cajas in Ecuador because they both are amazing in their own ways.
What is your funniest or most embarrassing foreign language conversation/translation story?
Once, while preparing for a midterm with a friend, we were practicing a conversation on making our favorite foods. I was describing the rice my mother often made, and how it had such a wonderful taste because of the garlic and onions. It was late and we were pretty tired from so much studying. We decided to go over the conversation once more, and while I was saying the ingredients, I said the recipe called for "caballos and ojos" (horses and eyes) instead of "Cebollas and ajos" (onions and garlic). We had a good laugh at my mistake and I still think of it every time I try to say any of the four in Spanish.
Have you been able to utilize your Spanish language skill in a foreign country? How and where?
Growing up in Southern California, Spanish is spoken quite frequently. The summer after my sophomore year, I was approached by a woman while I was in a bookstore. She asked me in Spanish if I knew where the children's books were and I answered her without even realizing I had understood her so well. I was so giddy afterwards, because of how far I had come with my Spanish, and it strengthened my desire to continue to learn Spanish.
What do you like most about studying Spanish at Eckerd?
The abroad opportunities at Eckerd are one of the greatest aspects of studying a foreign language. The Spanish professors encourage a language immersion course because of the improvement in students who study abroad. Even with a double major, I have had the time to study in two Spanish-speaking countries. A month abroad, living with a host family and taking language courses every day does so much for understanding a language. When I start to dream in the language I know I have it clicking.