World Languages and Cultures Master’s Students Headed to Top Doctoral Programs
A handful of UNLV master’s students in Hispanic Studies have been accepted to top doctoral programs over the past two years, including the University of Virginia, UCLA, University of Alabama, University of Chicago, and the University of Kansas.
They credit a rigorous curriculum emphasizing writing in Spanish, translation, and research, along with mentorship and guidance from their professors in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
With encouragement from professors, José F. Galindo Benίtez has pursued his research interests in Hispanic literature and cultures, and presented at three graduate conferences. In addition, he’s taught several Spanish courses and completed the Graduate Research Certificate through the UNLV Graduate College.
“I think all of these experiences prepared me for doctoral studies,” said Galindo Benίtez, who’ll work as a teaching assistant and pursue a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA, beginning this fall.
In the Hispanic Studies program, housed in the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, students write papers in Spanish in each class, and some have published articles in language journals, said Sue Byrne, chair of the world languages and cultures department.
These critical skills help students develop the ability to analyze texts, which in turn, strengthens their applications for doctoral programs, she said. “In other fields, more attention is paid to GRE scores. In languages, it’s your writing sample.”
Jesus Galindo Benίtez, José’s twin brother, is headed to the University of Virginia to work toward a Ph.D. in Spanish. In the master’s program, he acquired extensive knowledge in translation/interpretation, linguistics, and Spanish and Latin American literature and cultures, he said.
He counts professional development, including teaching and helping to organize a literary conference, among the many factors that helped him get ready for doctoral studies. “I am sure that without all this preparation I wouldn’t be able to continue with my dream of being accepted into a Ph.D. program,” he said.
Lizette Arellano graduated from UNLV in spring 2018 and is now a first-year doctoral student at the University of Chicago. Her master’s studies provided a solid foundation and helped her develop important professional relationships, she said.
“I can say with complete certainty that my experience at UNLV and learning from my professors, who are experts in their respective fields, gave me the preparation necessary to succeed at my current institution,” she said.
Byrne is pleased with the direction of the program and placement of graduates, she said. “Our students going to good programs is great for our program. It reflects well on us.”
The creation of a combined BA/MA program in Hispanic Studies in the near future will move students toward doctoral studies a year earlier, she said. “A student who comes in with a certain level of proficiency can finish the BA and MA in five years, which would be a real boon to them.”