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Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Marianne Verlinden
Hispanic Studies

Professor Marianne Verlinden

The College's Belgian-Spanish Connection
By Laura Tuten

Have you ever had professors who went out of t way for you? Have you ever had homework designed to help you individually?

Dr. Marianne Verlinden is a professor full of sincerity and lively spirit who recognizes how vital it is to learn a language and be able to spread the word to others. Since 1999, she has been making a difference in the Hispanic Studies Department at the College of Charleston.

Verlinden says the biggest inspiration in her life is her grandfather.

He was curious about many things, much like his granddaughter is today. He ignited a desire for reading and learning in the entire family. Following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, Verlinden ventured out into the world of language and culture.

Starting in her hometown of Brussels, Belgium, Verlinden began to study interpreting and translation. She came to America as an exchange student shortly after graduating from high school. Unlike her sisters who studied French, Dutch, and English, Verlinden chose Spanish because it seemed to present many potential job opportunities, she says.

Before joining us at The College, Verlinden taught French in an elementary school. Shortly after, she decided to go back to school to gain more insight into Spanish and Latin American culture. She attended Louisiana Tech where she obtained her master's degree in romance languages. She then went on to a fellowship at Tulane University in New Orleans. There she would earn a master's degree and Ph.D. in Latin American Studies.

Verlinden taught college previously at East Carolina University, and then joined the Hispanic Studies Department at the College of Charleston. Here she has taught courses such as Spanish language, translation and interpreting, Latin American Women Writers, and Latin American Cinema.

Verlinden says she loves developing new courses. At the College, she developed Introduction to Interpreting, with a focus on medical interpreting. For Latin American Studies, she developed a course on women writers and cinema. When asked why she works so hard to create new courses she responded, "I find that developing new courses helps me to keep growing and being challenged."

Why is it helpful to be able to interpret and translate? Verlinden says. "In the medical context, monolingual Spanish-speakers in our community tend to postpone seeking assistance until they find themselves in a situation of crisis," Verlinden says. "You are using your linguistic skills to contribute something that can have an immediate positive impact. There is a big need for interpreting."

Verlinden strives to create a positive classroom environment. Some characteristics of her teaching style include enthusiasm, positive energy, and supportiveness.

She not only teaches on the main campus downtown, but she also at the College of Charleston's North Campus. There, she says she finds joy in helping the nontraditional students who take her classes. Not only do the students learn from her, but she finds herself learning from them, too. Finding new ways to incorporate the aspects of nontraditional students into her lesson plans also creates exciting new challenges for her. She believes that challenges of this nature are important so that one is always striving for something more in life.

Shannon Fox, a nontraditional student, says, "She goes out of her way to promote a learning environment. And her homework is tailored to help us in our individual weak areas while keeping up with the class agenda."

Verlinden's upbeat personality and optimistic attitude combine to make her an outstanding professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the College of Charleston.

She takes the passion for language and culture she obtained from her family and passes it down to her students. The students leave with an enhanced capability to communicate with others outside of their culture, and the ability to spread the word.