Did you graduate from the Spanish Program at York?

Would you like to share what you've gone on to accomplish with your degree? Have you travelled, found a great job, or gone on to future studies for which Spanish was an asset? If you would like to share your story, please download, fill out, and return the alumni form. We'd love to hear what you've been up to! For questions regarding your update, please contact Professor Shanna Lino at

Learn more about their time at York and what they are doing now.

Laura Naish

Laura Naish graduated in 2012 with a Concurrent B.Ed. and Honours BA in Spanish

Teaching Spanish Abroad
Since graduating from York, Laura has been teaching on the island of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean (formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles). She teaches Spanish and Mathematics to students Grades 8 to 11. The work is challenging but rewarding, and she enjoys being able to teach both subjects. Saba is a beautiful island, home to only 1500 residents, and very different from the GTA! A pleasant surprise upon landing on the island, however, was learning that there is a significant population of Colombians and Dominicans so Laura can still enjoy the Latino culture here, and put her Spanish to good use outside of the classroom!


Travelling in the Caribbean
Working in the Caribbean has its advantages, the biggest being the proximity to other islands. Since graduate from York, Laura has been able to visit many of the islands surrounding Saba, including St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Barths and most recently, Jamaica. All the islands are beautiful and full of culture and she has learned a lot about the Caribbean. For example, Laura didn't know that Spain had colonized so many islands, including Saba, before it was taken over again by the Dutch. Her next stop: the island she has most wanted to visit since going there… Puerto Rico!

Bringing Spanish Teaching Back Home
In the near future, Laura plans to return to Canada to find a teaching position, hopefully teaching Spanish. She plans to complete an additional qualification course in order to receive her Honours Specialist qualification to teach Spanish.

Vittoria Fanelli

Vittoria Fanelli graduated in 2011 with an Honours BA Double Major in Law & Society and Spanish.

What Spanish at York was like for Vittoria
"I chose Spanish because I thought it would be interesting to learn how to write the language and become a more fluent speaker but I learned so much more! I was able to pick the courses that I wanted to take whether in language or literature. I learned about the Golden Age, the Spanish Civil War, and about the Mayans.

There is so much to learn in this major and I feel that the courses are all connected because what you learn in one will definitely help you in another. Your understanding of Spanish and Hispanic history and culture will deepen and grow as you go through the years. Also, because of the smaller class sizes, you will get to know your professors and fellow classmates on a personal level. I will miss my years in undergrad and I am very happy that I decided to double major in Spanish."


Spanish at Work!
Vittoria worked throughout her undergraduate degree and continues to do so at a local racetrack. There is a high percentage of Spanish-speaking patrons that visit the track who are new to betting and need assistance; she does her best to translate and assist them in Spanish.

"At first I found this difficult because of the many variations of Spanish. However, in one course that I took at York, we were asked to go to the Sound and Moving Library in Scott Library to view different Spanish films. I had never viewed Spanish films before and the actors' accents were new to me. Learning about them helped me to better communicate with Spanish-speaking individuals and increased my confidence overall."

Travel after York
Vittoria had always planned to travel as soon as she graduated. One of her first trips was to Cuba, a country about which she had learned a lot in her language classes. During her visit, she was able to communicate with locals. While others in her group felt dependent on the travel agent for their cultural encounters, Vittoria drew on the knowledge and confidence she acquired during her studies at York in Spanish to engage more fully with the Cubans that she met:

"One of the great aspects about my Spanish classes was how class discussions could break out from something we learned in the course materials. Such discussions are an important aspect in learning a language fluently and being able to confidently engage in conversations." Next, Vittoria plans to visit Spain, the birthplace of her favourite author, Miguel de Cervantes, writer of Don Quijote de La Mancha. "I would love to perhaps collect old copies of books that I have read while at York and a few new ones to take home with me. Something I never would of expected was to fall in love with each book I read in my Spanish classes."

Future Studies & Community Work
After graduating from York University, Vittoria began preparing for the LSATs. She plans to apply for law school and is interested in practicing immigration law. Her degree in Spanish is especially relevant to her future career because she wants to work with members of Canada's Hispanic communities as they help their families immigrate.

In the meantime, Vittoria hopes to start a charitable foundation for high school students in underprivileged areas to combat some of the financial burdens that prevent them from pursuing post-secondary education. "I hope that through sponsorship, community support and hard work, I'll achieve this goal and change a few lives for the better."

We'll keep you posted on how Vittoria's exciting endeavours take shape!
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Ivania Ledesma

Ivania Ledesma graduated in 2011 with an Honours BA Double Major in French Studies and Spanish.

Travel after York
After graduating from York, Ivania decided to put her studies on hold for one year in order to travel and work in Spain. "It was the best decision I could have made! This experience has been complimentary to my education received at York University because I'm able to put my knowledge and skills to practical use. Furthermore, it has enhanced my knowledge of not only Spain but other European cultures and societies as well."


During her year abroad so far, Ivania has spent time in Galicia and Catalonia and has also been to Portugal, Holland and Germany. She plans to continue to travel throughout Spain while she is Europe.

Spanish at Work... in Spain!
Since her graduation, Ivania has been working as an English teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education. Her job requires her to interact with students as well as parents and other teachers in their native language. "I rely on the Spanish oral and written communication skills that I acquired at York University everyday."

As an English teaching assistant, Ivania gives students and teachers a chance to interact with a native speaker of English while helping to broaden their knowledge of Anglophone countries. In return, students and faculty share their culture and language with Ivania. During her spare time she gives private lessons around the city of Ourense and has also been learning to speak "galego", the Galician language, and reading Galician authors such as Manuel Rivas and Xosé Carlos Caneiro.

"One of the great things about the Spanish Program at York is the networking system. It was through the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics that I found out about this great opportunity to work abroad."

Future Studies
When Ivania returns from Spain, she plans to begin her Master's Degree in Spanish literature. For her graduate work, she intends to research notions of identity expressed in contemporary texts through space.

We'll keep you posted on what exciting endeavours Ivania takes on next!

Diana Morales

Diana Morales graduated in 2010 with an Honours BA, Major in Visual Arts / Minor in Spanish

Studies, work and volunteering in Spanish
After graduating from York, Diana pursued a Masters Degree in Spanish at the University of Toronto, in which she was able to keep learning about the Spanish culture and language. She was encouraged through her courses to further explore the relationship between literature and the visual arts, which she had begun to research as an undergraduate student at York. Diana also worked as a Spanish TA during her MA and through this opportunity she learnt a lot about second-language acquisition and teaching.


Diana has also volunteered as an audio assistant for the Spanish audio guides at the Royal Ontario Museum. Her Spanish and Visual Arts background helped her get this unique opportunity, which she pursued while she continued to volunteer as a mentor in the DreamCatcher Mentoring Program, which connects high school students in the Yukon with mentors in their interested career fields. Through these varied endeavours, Diana has met and been able to inspire a lot of dedicated students with diverse interests and career goals, which she has found to be a very rewarding experience.

Travel after York
After finishing her MA, Diana travelled throughout Europe for four months. She started off in Russia and Latvia, where she got to experience the beauty, culture and hospitality of those countries and then spent three months living in Paris, where she practiced her French, improved her culinary skills, and got to take in the history, art, and architecture of this unique city. These travels will undoubtedly have prepared her for the exciting new adventure on which she is about to embark…

What the future has in store...
Diana would like to open her own murals and designs business and eventually run her own arts & crafts store with workshops for children. At the same time, she would love to continue pursuing higher education such as completing a PhD in the Visual Arts, Spanish, or both. In the meantime she is working as a translator for the Art Gallery of York University, as well as an Office Manager for a Health & Fitness company. No matter where her work and studies taker her, though, she hopes to always keep travelling!

Liana Jaikissoon

Liana Jaikissoon graduated in 2010 with an Honours BA Double Major in International Development Studies and Spanish.

Spanish at Work!
After graduating from York, Liana worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago as the desk officer for Central America. Her portfolio consisted of attending sessions between her home country and Panama for the conclusion of a Partial Scope Agreement between both nations.


Liana put both her previous majors to good use since "during these sessions, I had to use my Spanish to converse with the Panamanian delegation." In addition to working full-time, Liana began volunteering at an orphanage in Trinidad where they have been trying to introduce a Spanish Program.

Travel after York
Since graduating, Liana has also travelled. Having explored the Americas, she decided to visit friends that she had met at York and who were living in Dubai. "Travelling after university was very liberating and it was fantastic to experience to visit such a unique place after having been so immersed in the Latin American and Caribbean culture for such a long time."

Future Studies
After her post-graduation year of work and travel, Liana decided to continue her studies. In September 2011, she began an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Columbia University in New York City.

We'll keep you posted on what exciting endeavours Liana takes on next!

Olga Tararova

Olga Tararova se graduó en 2010 con un Honours BA Double Major en Español y Estudios de Comunicación.

El programa de español de York en sus propias palabras
The Spanish Program at York in Olga’s own words

“Quiero dar un aplauso al programa de español de la Universidad de York. La diversidad de los cursos, el ambiente cálido, el conocimiento profundo de cada materia - todas estas y más cosas han creado un sentimiento muy familiar dentro del programa.

Olga Tararova

Tengo que darles muchas gracias a los profesores tanto de literatura como de lingüística por abarcar el mundo hispano en cuanto a sus variedades dialectales, la poesía del Siglo de Oro y la prosa del Siglo XX, entre otros temas, así como por profundizar los conceptos del lenguaje y de la cultura. Todo esto resultó en un sentimiento inexplicable mío de admiración por, y fascinación con, la lengua y la cultura, lo cual contribuyó a mi decisión de seguir este camino que anteriormente me era tan desconocido.”

Estudiando y trabajando en español
Studies and work in Spanish

Después de graduarse de York, Olga siguió estudiando e hizo una maestría en la Universidad de Guelph en el programa de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe. Aunque su programa haya sido panorámico en cuanto a la América Latina y haya abarcado muchas disciplinas, eligió hacer una tesis sociolingüística con un enfoque en las actitudes hacia las lenguas minoritarias. Al mismo tiempo, trabajó en la Universidad de Guelph como TA de español elemental y siguió dando clases particulares a estudiantes de diferentes edades y niveles. En junio de 2012, se graduará del MA y en septiembre del mismo año, empezará el doctorado en Lingüística Hispana en la Universidad de Toronto.