Student Testimonials: Kevin Cresti ('22)
We sat down to chat with Kevin Cresti, who graduated with a double major in biology and Spanish, about his time as a Spanish student.
Kevin Cresti ('22) is currently pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University
You graduated in 2022. Where did you go after that?
I'm at Auburn University studying my doctorate in veterinary medicine. I'm in my second of four years.
Tell me a little bit about your experience with Spanish.
I started learning Spanish in first grade. Spanish was the only other language my school offered up until middle school. I kept studying it because I figured it would be helpful for me. My sophomore year of high school, I became friends with the niece of one of the Spanish teachers, who was from Colombia. I learned about Colombian culture and common phrases, and in return I made lists of catch phrases used in English. We became pen pals and still keep in touch.
In school, I felt like I was one of the few people taking Spanish who took it seriously. I know a lot of people liked it, but they didn't really make it a priority, and you can't learn a language unless you put effort into it.
Did you know you would be a Spanish major when you started at Villanova?
I knew I wanted to do at least a minor, but I realized that taking the classes I really wanted to take would lead me close to a major anyway, so I figured why not?
Was it difficult being a double major?
The classes in biology and Spanish didn't overlap at all, so I had to organize my schedule carefully, but it ended up being great. When I was stressed about my biology classes, I could take a break to think about Spanish and vice versa.
What made you choose to pursue a major as opposed to a minor?
My sister was double majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, and I'm very competitive, so had to do a double major too! But honestly, Spanish was a different type of learning and stimulated different parts of my brain than studying biology. I realized that it's really important to me to be continuously learning, and Spanish was a great way to do that.
Have you been able to keep up with your Spanish as a graduate student?
Next semester, I'm going to be taking an advanced medical Spanish elective as part of my studies. I'm excited to learn how to blend my two interests together a little bit more.
Did you know that we now offer that class at Villanova?
I didn't. That would have been really helpful!
How do you feel like majoring in Spanish has helped prepare you for the kinds of things you're doing now as a student and may do in the future as a vet?
Well, the language component is clear. There are a lot of underserved, Spanish-speaking communities with pets that need care.
Recently, I had a client who mostly spoke Spanish. I got to have a conversation with them and then take their pet's history in Spanish, which was really cool.
Looking back on the classes you took in the Spanish Department, which did you like the most and why?
I really liked the more applied classes, like linguistics and advanced grammar (advanced Spanish), because they helped me learn specific ways to use the language improve the way I speak. At some point, a lot of advanced Spanish classes sort of become like advanced English classes in that you're reading and interpreting lots of texts. That's great, but I'm not really an English person, so a lot of the classes that were focused on reading and discussion weren't really for me. I liked getting better at discussing complex things and learning to interpret literature, but I would have loved to be talking about heavy topics like racism and environmental stuff while also building the vocabulary, grammar, and structural knowledge about the language more directly.
But did those classes help you better understand Hispanic culture and civilization?
A lot of the things I did early on were based on culture. The more advanced classes I took, though, were focused on more universal concepts. I definitely got a lot of practice talking about those complicated topics and figuring out how to phrase things conversationally, which gave me the opportunity to try out new things and learn some of the more complex aspects of the language.
Can you think of a favorite assignment you did for one of your classes?
One that stood out was in Advanced Grammar. We had to write a blurb about a fake historical event. I wrote about the Area 51 raid that was going to happen. It was fun to me because I got to be creative and goofy while learning a bunch of vocabulary and grammar. I had fun and ran with it.
A big point of attraction for Spanish majors is the possibility of studying abroad, and you had mentioned that you weren't able to. Was that due to COVID, your schedule, or something else?
I originally had planned to do the Cádiz trip over the summer. I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it during the semester because of my schedule, so I opted for summer. Unfortunately, the trip was canceled due to covid. As a graduate student, though, I'm looking for ways to go abroad and do veterinary medicine while practicing Spanish.
What would you recommend to an incoming Spanish student?
You need to be passionate about the language to really learn it and excel. Don't think of Spanish classes as a resume builder; you'll only really get something out of it if it's something you really want to do and are willing to put the work in for.
I would also recommend taking a wide variety of courses. Take linguistics because it will help with pronunciation and grammar, and then look into advanced topics courses where you can get practice discussing complex issues. Go for a variety.
Any final thoughts?
I personally got a lot out of the Spanish program. I would have loved to take more classes in grammar and linguistics and have a bit more variety in the the structure of the courses because I think those are really important, but overall I'm very glad I majored in Spanish.