On Friday, December 3rd, United States Diplomat, Tashawna Smith, spoke to students to kick off the first of its kind Classics Interdisciplinary Speaker Series established by Dr. Holm and Dr. Crosson, made possible by a grant given by the Parents’ Association.
This speaker series was established to invite individuals with a background in Classics to campus to speak with students about how their background in Classics intersects with their respective careers. Speakers will address the value and prevalence of classical history, literature, and language across multiple fields of study.
Ms. Smith is a successful US Diplomat and official representative of the President of the United States; she is an expert on international affairs and commercial business who is fluent in over five languages. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Spelman College where she earned a degree in Spanish, International Affairs, and Drama.
She credits her successful career to one thing, the foundation she built for herself through studying Latin throughout high school.
“Studying Latin provides a myriad of benefits for you,” she said. “It will expand your vocabulary, help you develop critical thinking skills, teach you history, sharpen your mind, and most importantly it will prepare you for a career in the scientific, legal, or medical field.”
Ms. Smith explains to students that as a US Diplomat, communication is key, and when she was representing the United States at the United Nations Peacekeeping Committees Official Opening, her language skills helped her negotiate and communicate with other representatives.
“It goes such a long way to speak to another person in their native language,” she said. “And even if you want to study other languages, Latin builds that foundation first.”
And while most individuals associate Latin with being a dead language, Ms. Smith encourages students to continue to pursue the language: “You may not see it now or understand why it’s important, but I’m telling you, studying Latin is going to make you a better, more well-rounded individual. Latin will show up in your future in a variety of ways, and having a strong foundation will help you so much.”
To wrap up her presentation, Ms. Smith left students with a few tips for how to master learning a new language in a short amount of time.
“I really suggest finding a friend or a pen pal who speaks the language. Or try watching television in that language, even if you don’t understand it, your brain is absorbing it. And don’t give up on it, once you learn it, it’s like riding a bike.”