Experiential Learning: Research, Service, Internships, and Careers

Madrid 2012 Katie Lebling, Lara Pugh, Madeline Albrittain, Sarah Abbott

UMW Students on Research Trip to Madrid, Spain

Our dynamic faculty, our vibrant Fredericksburg community, our proximity to Washington, D.C., and our outstanding study abroad programs create abundant opportunities for student research, service, and internships in Spanish, and these rich experiences outside the classroom mean better preparation for future careers or graduate study.

The opportunity to work closely with faculty in group or individual research is a hallmark of our liberal arts education at UMW. Students had worked in small URES (undergraduate research) teams as part of a faculty research project, or on individual research projects under the guidance of a faculty member, often resulting in a senior honors thesis. In both cases, students have won undergraduate research grants for the Dean of Arts and Sciences to fund their work, including travel to the Library of Congress, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and to interview Amazonian poets in Perú.


UMW Students in Guatemala

Service-learning is incorporated into various language and culture courses, and also is an option for fulfilling the experiential learning requirement in the Spanish major.  Opportunities for service are available through student groups, such as COAR (Community Outreach and Resources), Students Helping Honduras, the Latino Students Association, and La Ceiba Microfinance.  Additionally, students can complete service abroad. Some of the service projects students have completed in the past include teaching ESL and after-school tutoring; translation and interpretation for local medical, social services, and law enforcement agencies; work with orphaned and disabled children in Ecuador and Peru; as well as construction work and help with microfinance loans to small businesses in Honduras.

Internships are available to Junior and Senior Spanish majors who wish to earn credit through hands-on experience in the many agencies in Fredericksburg and surrounding areas. To earn from 1-4 elective credits, students must register through the Office of Academic and Career Services.

UMW Spanish majors have completed internships in Fredericksburg, with organizations such as:

  • Rappahannock Adult Education Programs (ESL teaching)
  • Virginia Department of Health
  • Hugh Mercer Elementary (Teaching Spanish)
  • RCASA (Rappahannock Council against Sexual Assault)
  • RCDV (Rappahannock Council against Domestic Violence)
  • Bragg Hill Family Life Center
  • Mobile Health Clinic
  • Moss Free Clinic
  • LUCHA Ministries
  • Rappahannock Legal Services
  • Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center
  • American Canoe Association
  • Students Helping Honduras

In the Washington, DC area:

  • AYUDA, Inc. A legal aid non-profit, community-based organization
  • Smithsonian/Latino Museum Partnership Museum Intern Program
  • Hispanic Division, Library of Congress
  • HACU National Internship Program
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Agriculture
  • State Department

There are also possibilities to complete an internship, volunteer or participate in service learning opportunities abroad in Spain or Latin America. Contact the Center for International Education for more information about education abroad programs that support these kinds of opportunities.

After graduation, some students choose to go directly to graduate school, while others work before returning to study.  Students have pursued graduate degrees in Spanish, education, law, international business, international relations, social work, and nursing, among others, and have attended institutions such as University of Maryland, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, American University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, Ohio University and University of Indiana.  A number of our students have spent their first years after graduation with the Peace Corps. Our graduates work in various fields including the federal government, higher education, K-12 education, international business, government, non-profit agencies, medicine, health-care management, hotel management, intellectual property law, immigration law, law enforcement (at local and national levels), social work, real estate, translation, and many more.


For additional information contact Dr. Elizabeth Lewis, Combs 222; elewis@umw.edu or your Spanish major advisor.