Student Testimonials: Aidan Fecko ('23)
We sat down to chat with Aidan Fecko, who graduated with a double major in mathematics and Spanish, about his time as a Spanish student.
Aidan Fecko ('23) was awarded a 2023-2024 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Montenegro
Tell us a little bit about what school was like for you. What kinds of activities were you involved in?
I have been involved with Villanoa Student Musical Theater, both as a general body member and directing production teams. I was involved in Minor Problem, an a cappella group on campus. I also did Blue Key, so I was a tour guide for the University all 4 years at Villanova.
What led you to studying Spanish?
I knew i'd wanted to continue the language because I had taken it throughout middle School and high school and loved it. I went to Costa Rica through a homestay program where I got to stay with a Costa Rican family. We went to school and did excursions around the country, which was really eye-opening for me as a sophomore in high school. Classes were taught in Spanish, English, and German, and it was cool just to see that there's so much you can do with a language. It's not just reading books! There's a lot more to getting to know a culture.
I've always been passionate about traveling and seeing the world, but I also love immersing myself in different cultures. Like a lot of students, I was going to start with a minor, but then I just fell in love with my classes. When I found out it was possible to do math and Spanish I was like, let's do it.
What convinced you to switch from a Spanish minor to a Spanish major?
My biggest fear coming into college was that I was going to overindulge myself and get swamped with work between my classes and extracurriculars. In high school, everything's really laid out for you, but in college it isn't. There are so many different routes to take, and I had to find one that worked for me. I started working with professors and found that I really liked Spanish and wanted to take more classes. I talked with my math advisor and some Spanish professors to see if I could make it work. Once we started looking into it, it was fairly easy to find a route that was possible for me to complete all my requirements and graduate in four years.
So the the biggest factor for you was making sure that you could still graduate in 4 years with the extra classes. Was it worth it?
My favorite parts of being a Spanish major came later in college when I was able to choose classes that were interesting to me. Once you get to that point, there's so many opportunities. I actually completed my Spanish major in the fall, but I decided to take Don Quixote as an elective in the spring because it sounded really cool. It was great to have an opportunity like that and put what you learn into practice with a masterpiece of literature like that. It was super rewarding for me in my last semester read and reflect on everything that is led up to this point. Overall, the connections that you make in the program are what made it so rewarding.
Do you have any advice for students interested in pursuing a Spanish major?
For the people that are considering studying Spanish, just do it. Going with that double major was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It's enriching to be in a classroom environment where the professors are all so happy to be there and so in love with the subject that they're teaching.
There's so many different interests that you can really dive into with a Spanish major. You won't just be looking at vocabulary for 4 years, but instead you'll be applying it to new areas. If you're a science person, you can study linguistics. If you're more of a literature person, you can study masterpieces of literature and culture.
The program is definitely evolving, too. Even over the past 4 years, I've seen that the breadth of topics covered in classes has really grown. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
What are you planning to do after graduation?
I just found out I received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Montenegro.
Congratulations! What made you choose Montenegro?
I've always wanted to go to Spain, but it ultimately came down to what the programs offered. In Montenegro there is the possibility that I'll be teaching in a STEM field, and my goal is to be a STEM professor in higher education. So, the Montenegro program combined everything that I wanted in a program: I wanted to meet new people. This is a new language. It's a new culture that I haven't studied, and I get to experience it first hand.
Spanish isn't an official language of Montenegro. How do you think studying Spanish helped you?
It's really expanded on my ideas of understanding in general and opened my eyes to ways of thinking that are different than my own. I saw that in Spanish classes. For example, last fall my friend and I would go from a heavy literature course to like a heavier and like a different complex, critical thinking for historical linguistics and Latin to Spanish. Even just seeing the ways that the Spanish classes at Villanova are so different from one another, and there's so many different complexities that go into them in the ways that you need to think about them, but also in a different language and culture. I think that has prepared me to go into the Fulbright with an open mind and a lot of excitement.
How do you think learning Spanish is going to be helpful for your future?
There's so much to be said about being able to understand a new culture and being able to communicate and form connections with your mind beyond our own little Villanova bubble. I think, even with evolving over 4 years as a Spanish major myself, learning to think in so many different ways has made me such a rounded individual. Being a Spanish major has really given me different layers that I'm so happy now make up a part of who I am.