Justin Root

Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, 2006

Home Ownership Consultant at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago; 2006 BA from SEMO, 2012 Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Florida Atlantic University

When I entered SEMO in 2002, I was convinced I wanted to major in Elementary Education. My "concentration" was in Spanish. I would switch majors twice before landing on Spanish as my program of study. At the time, it was a sensible choice - I already had earned credits in the department, and I would graduate on time.

However, after declaring my Spanish major, and delving full-time into the program, I realized that this was a path far more interesting, stimulating and meaningful than what I had previously experienced at SEMO. It was much more challenging than I had anticipated. I became functionally proficient in another language. I learned so much about the world, its people and what unites us. Plus I got to travel!

This degree set me on a path that has led me many places. I have been a high school teacher. I have worked as a social service provider. I quit my job and lived abroad for a while. I went back to school and earned my Masters. I worked in housing advocacy. And now, I am in local government, in the second biggest city in Illinois, helping transform and lead from our division. I was explicitly told when I was hired that what put me over the edge was my ability to speak Spanish. Is it perfect? No. But I can communicate with all residents, in a city where nearly half consider themselves Hispanic or Latino.

“College is not a means to an end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of discovery and learning."

Brittney Lee Diebold

Bachelor of Art in Spanish, 2012
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science, 2012

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Brittney Diebold, D.O. Candidate 2017
Kansas City University

Double-majoring in Biomedical Science and Spanish allowed me to equally explore two of my passions. In my medical school interviews, the physicians were very interested in the many short-term study abroad experiences I had during my undergrad career at SEMO. The experiences and skills I acquired have followed me through my medical education and have paved the way for more opportunities and connections than I could have imagined.

Kina Coutavas

Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, 2007
Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, 2007


I double majored and graduated Cum Laude in both Spanish and Public Relations at Southeast Missouri State University in 2007. I went straight into marketing after college and loved it. I've worked for large companies like Coca Cola and also small start-ups. I've also worked for multiple agencies representing brands like Nestle Nesquik, Miller/Coors and the Moet Hennessy brand portfolio. In several of my positions, I've been able to use my Spanish to communicate with staff and consumers during meetings, high profile events and during travel. For me, it's not been about how much I've use my Spanish during my career but more so the fact that I was usually the only (or one of the few) people that had the capacity to communicate in Spanish when it was needed. It has been a huge asset to me in that respect. It has set me apart from others in my field and has given me the edge during job interviews and for career advancement. I highly recommend learning a second language and believe that Spanish is the most useful for working here in the USA.

Jacob Brower

B.A. Spanish (2009)
B.S.B.A. (International Business) with a minor in Entrepreneurship (2009)


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Retrospectively I can positively say Spanish is the best thing that ever happened to me. I met my wife while studying abroad in Mexico and we have two children. I use Spanish in my every day life and in each professional role I have held.


Art Building 203
Modern Languages, Anthropology and Geography
One University Plaza, MS 4150
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701