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OHIO sophomore uses experiences abroad and on campus to amplify Hispanic culture

Identity has always been important to OHIO sophomore Alyssa Cruz, who recently had the opportunity to connect further with her Hispanic background on a trip abroad to Spain.

Cruz studied in Toledo, Spain with other Ohio University students in May and June as part of the Spain: Spanish Language and Culture in Toledo program offered by the Department of Modern Languages in the College of Arts and Sciences. She was able to gain enough credits through the experience to add a double major in Spanish.

I went on the trip because both of my parents speak Spanish, and my dad is originally from Mexico,” she said. “I’ve always spoken Spanish, but I really wanted to go there to cement my fluency. I feel like that was my goal going in.”                                                                                             

The trip was designed to take a deeper look into the history, literature, and culture of Spain. The group traveled to Madrid, and even La Mancha, the setting of "Don Quixote."

“We took a history class when we were there, and Europe has a really rich and deep history. So, we’d learn something in history class, and then we’d go outside and see it,” she explained, recalling a lesson on Roman aqueducts.

While travelling, the group of 18 students quickly bonded with one another and built tight-knit relationships.

“We also had time on the weekends to do our own thing, which was super nice,” Cruz said. “We went to Porto, Portugal, which is right on the coast. It was just such a great experience because it was spontaneous. We just laid on the beach and took tours of the city. I think that was the epitome of study abroad.”

“I really felt like we were able to immerse ourselves in the city and not really feel like a tourist,” Cruz said. 

Broadening accessibility to Spanish-speakers at OHIO

Back at Ohio University, Cruz continues to make her heritage a priority through work in and outside of the classroom.

“I’ve had a phenomenal experience at OHIO," Cruz said. "I came to OU because of the journalism program, and I was just immediately blown away by how much support and centered attention you get as a journalism major, I just love that. There are so many amazing people here, and so many awesome resources to use.”

The journalism, news and information studies major serves as the assistant culture editor for The Post, Athens’ student-run newspaper. She also serves as the head of the newspaper's multilingual department.

“Last spring, I was able to publish The Post’s first bilingual article,” Cruz said. “That was just awesome. It was just such a great learning experience, and that was probably the highlight of my year.”

The article discussed the importance of bilingual journalism, and how reporting in someone’s native language helps capture the full story, while being more accessible and easier for native speakers to read.

“With doing that article I found out that there are a lot more bilingual people here than you think, which was really surprising,” Cruz said.

She also serves as a peer mentor for the LINKS program through the Office of Multicultural Success and Retention.

“I have five freshmen that I mentor, hang out with and talk to,” Cruz said. "The majority of them actually do speak Spanish.”

Cruz helps provide them with a safe space to discuss their own experiences, while sharing her own, and providing resources and recommendations. Sometimes they have their conversations in Spanish, to take a break from translating to English all the time.

They are all from multicultural backgrounds, all of mine happen to be Hispanic. It’s awesome to be able to share that identity,” Cruz said.

Through experiential learning, Cruz has gained personal and professional skills with her trip to Spain and extracurricular involvement. Learn more about experiences offered at OHIO at

If you are a multilingual Bobcat and interested in getting involved with The Post’s multilingual department, reach out to Alyssa Cruz at:

October 14, 2022
Jordan Schmitt