AQ Difference: Spanish Alumni

In-the-Field: Lindy Nawrocki ‘14
Lindy Nawrocki

Throughout my experience at Aquinas College I learned inside and outside of the classroom.  One of my course of studies was within the Spanish Program of the Department of World Languages. The Spanish I acquired enabled me to communicate at my internship with a not-for-profit organization in Grand Rapids.

Additionally, the "Border Issues," independent study I took with Dr. Shelli Rottschafer, enlightened me on the importance of undocumented immigrants to the United States. After reading Rumbo Al Hermoso Norte (Into the Beautiful North) by Luis Alberto Urrea, whom also was one of Aquinas College Contemporary Writers, I better understood the circumstances that most people face when seeking a better life in the United States. Inhumane, dangerous, and terrifying conditions await many who come to the United States. These issues are faced often by refugees and immigrants while making the journey to cross the border into the United States.  Those who undertake this voyage feel the weight of the need to become survivors.

The survivor spirit is incredible. I have the honor of observing this on a regular basis as I currently serve at Casa Juan Diego in Houston, Texas. Casa Juan Diego is a Catholic Worker House that offers temporary hospitality to refugees and immigrants to the United States. I work at the house for women and children, many of whom are also survivors of domestic violence. Also part of Casa Juan Diego are houses for men, health care clinics, and another house located in Matamoros, Mexico.


Casa Juan Diego was founded in 1980 by Mark and Louise Zwick. The Zwicks realized the immense housing need for those who crossed the border without documentation. Casa Juan Diego offers hope to those of need.  It is an inspiration to witness those who share their real-life survival stories of crossing the border into the United States.


Alumna Profile: Katie Carty ‘10

Katie Carty ‘10

The exceptional opportunities Aquinas offers extend far beyond the classroom. For alumna Katie Carty ‘10, her experiences at Aquinas paved the road to achieving her dreams. An English and Spanish major with a minor in creative writing, Katie was drawn to the many clubs, activities, and events at Aquinas that accentuated her passion for her studies. Katie also participated in the College’s study abroad program, spending a semester in Costa Rica. It was this program that inspired Katie’s passion to become a global learner, joining her scholarly endeavors with real world applications.


Since graduation, Katie’s life has continued to be shaped by her time as a Saint. One of the most influential aspects of

Aquinas for Katie was the College’s emphasis on service. Now fluent in Spanish, Katie has traveled to El Salvador six times, working as a language interpreter and leading volunteer groups to work on a range of projects with a rural, indigenous community there.

These experiences have been the chief influences in the development of Katie’s studies as she continues to further her education. In 2012, Katie graduated with her Master’s degree in comparative literature with a focus on Latin American studies from SUNY Buffalo in New York. At Buffalo, Katie discovered her love for teaching. In her professors at Aquinas, Katie remembered an enthusiasm for teaching that extended beyond academics. It was the time her professors took to be caring and even develop friendships with her that gave her a space where she could flourish as a student. Katie emulated these teaching techniques from a desire to be the best teacher she could think of - an Aquinas teacher. In return she witnessed students who became passionate learners excited for their academic journeys, which further solidified her goal to become a college professor.

In the fall of 2013, Katie began her studies in the doctoral program in Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin. Within her discipline, Katie is focused on indigenous literatures and cultures, and her work is centered on comparative study between indigenous peoples in both North and Latin America. Katie is particularly interested in issues surrounding self-representation in indigenous identity and resistance movements. As Katie continues her work at UT Austin, she hopes to engage in ethnographic study, joining her research with social justice to help enhance the platform for Indigenous-Latino issues, and create a widely accessible space for these students in academia.


In April 2014, Katie joined Dr. Shelli Rottschafer, Aquinas Associate Professor of Spanish, on a panel for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) conference in Durango, Co. The paper Katie presented was titled “Los argentinos descienden de los barcos: La raza invisible y la identidad indígena como una fuerza de resistencia” and focused on identity and resistance in indigenous groups in contemporary Argentina. For Katie, it was an honor to present at the RMCLAS conference. It is an encouraging conference for students and a fantastic venue for networking with great minds from across disciplines, as well as a valuable space for accessing new ideas. Most of all, it was wonderful to present with Dr. Rottschafer and continue to maintain the Aquinas connection. Katie is looking forward to participating in RMCLAS in the years to come.