Skip Navigation

Text Only/ Printer-Friendly


Allison Starr


Lincoln, NE
Spanish and Anthropology & Sociology
Study Abroad:
Oaxaca, México
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Mango con limón y chile
Best Adjective to Describe You:

In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
You must study classical literature before you can deconstruct it.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
Since I was in middle school, I have wanted to learn Spanish so that I could study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. From my first Spanish class at K, I’ve been really challenged to produce the best work I can and as a result, I’ve grown tremendously. As Dr. Henry Cohen correctly surmised, I did not learn grammar in high school and so directly attribute my knowledge of Spanish grammar to the excellent classes I’ve taken here.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Get involved with the Spanish-speaking community in the city of Kalamazoo. There are so many opportunities to apply your Spanish skills outside of K College! Locally, some examples include volunteering at El Sol Elementary School or Farmworker Legal Services and taking advantage of the medical interpreting class or being the medical Spanish interpreting Civic Engagement Scholar. MiRA and the Hispanic-American Council work to support Spanish-speaking people living in the Kalamazoo area. Additionally, you can find opportunities such as externships and internships that allow you to apply your skills. This way, if you decide to study abroad or away (in Europe in Spain or in the Americas in Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Ecuador or study away with the Border Studies program in Arizona), you will have a better base for communicating by using the grammar you learn in classes with the knowledge of colloquial Spanish.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
Because I aspire to do meaningful work that gives people (specifically farmworkers and/or migrant workers) agency or allows them to realize their own agency, I anticipate working in the non-profit sector. Speaking Spanish and having had some experience with farmworkers and organizations that provide them assistance (through externships and the Spanish department), allows me to pursue these interests. The department also opened up the Spanish canon of literature to me, broadening my view of the themes I’d only ever read in English.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
I had to leave my home to learn about it.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
Two of the classes that impacted me greatly were an English class (Reading The World: Social Justice) and an ANSO class (US Border & Immigration Policy). Although housed in different departments, both of these classes shaped the way I look at my place at K, at home and in the larger project of being human. They also complemented my first externship in South Texas and encouraged me to return the next summer. Of course, the material of both courses, while it is excellent, does not deserve all the credit because the professors and fellow students collaborated to create an experience unique to those quarters.

What is your SIP?
At the moment, my SIP is advised by the Spanish department but utilizes French theorists Foucault and Saussure. Also, detention centers in Nebraska, the ACLU and langue and parole, two words I cannot say, as I am woefully incompetent at pronouncing French words. Talk to me at the end of Fall Quarter and I’ll have a better idea of what I’m doing given that it’s supposed to be done then.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I aspire to use my Spanish speaking and writing skills to do some medical interpreting for the towns and villages of Southeast Nebraska. Yes, this means moving back home. Yes, I am ok with this. No, I do not want to go to graduate school right now. Also, I’ll have the chance to see my sister graduate from high school and get to live with my family continuously for the first time in 4 years. 

DSA Spotlights