January 17, 2019 - Learning a second language provides a new perspective on the world and the people who live in it. For global disease biology major Hana Minsky, Spanish classes in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science opened her eyes to the music and culture of Latin America.
“It’s music I wouldn’t have found on my own, but I’ve discovered new genres and songs I really enjoy,” she said.
As a STEM major with a Spanish minor, Minsky feels her language classes allow her to explore her interests in reading and literature while working on her Spanish fluency. “I’ve really enjoyed all of the classes I’ve taken in the Spanish department, and I think they’re a great complement to the science classes I take,” she said.
Communicating in a second language is also a vital skill for Minsky’s chosen career path. She plans to apply to medical school after graduation, with an emphasis on maternal or neonatal health, and is interested in working with underserved communities.
‘UC Davis doesn’t feel like a large school’
Minsky grew up in Berkeley and chose UC Davis for its “warm and welcoming” students and strong biology programs. She found her strongest sense of community in her language classes. “A lot of the STEM classes have 300-plus students. The Spanish classes are much smaller and I get to know the students a lot better,” she said. “I’ve been able to talk to all of them.”
Financial support from scholarships and grants also factored in Minsky’s choice. She has received a Joseph Bonnheim Memorial Scholarship, Malcom R. Stacey Memorial Scholarship a Liliane D. Wells Scholarship, and a University Farm Circle Marion Freeborn scholarship, in addition to grants. Minsky also sought out part-time employment in campus research laboratories that align with her interests in human and plant biology.
Minsky’s learning experiences outside the classroom include the Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program at the UC Davis Medical Center; the Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic, a student-run clinic in Sacramento; and volunteering with Challah for Hunger, a student club organized to reduce local food insecurity. In her spare time, Minsky plays on Rogue, the women’s club ultimate frisbee team. “I feel like I’ve made an impact on the campus community through student groups, and it’s made a positive impact on who I am,” Minsky said. “I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve received here,” she said.