Translations of Success

Lebanon Valley College student Liam Schmidt in Spain

Liam Schmidt ’22 knew early on that he wanted to teach English. He would quickly find out that this was merely the tip of the iceberg.

A Spanish teacher in high school broadened his interest in language. When it came time to pick a college and major, he settled on dual majors of English and Spanish at LVC, hoping to explore both fields further.

“I knew that LVC was a good school academically, especially in my fields of interest,” Schmidt said. “Looking back, I couldn’t imagine having gone anywhere else.”

It wasn’t long before Schmidt became involved in numerous on- and off-campus activities, including volunteering, coaching hockey, and before the pandemic, working as a cook at an Italian restaurant, to name a few. On-campus, Schmidt joined a research and translation project with Dr. Robert Machado, chair of humanities and director of English, and Dr. Carmen García Armero, associate professor of Spanish. 

The project, intended by Dr. Machado to be grant-funded, did not turn out that way due to the pandemic. However, Schmidt agreed to participate regardless, uncompensated and for no academic credit. For the past two years, he has worked with both professors weekly, translating cartoneras, hand-assembled books with cardboard covers consisting of various prose, poetry, art, and drama. This project focused specifically on the cartonera Norte/Sur that Schmidt found through research on Kodama Cartonera, a publisher in Tijuana, Mexico.  

“Getting to work with Dr. Machado and Dr. García Armero are some of my fondest memories from the past four years,” Schmidt said. “It taught me a lot about the translation process and prepared me to take on similar projects during my pursuit of a graduate degree.”

Schmidt plans to give a talk on cartoneras this fall and is currently writing a paper for publication that deals with Norte/Sur.

Schmidt delved further into the Spanish portion of his coursework as a teaching assistant this past fall for Dr. Gabriela McEvoy, chair of languages and associate professor of Spanish. He improved his Spanish and gained insights into the best teaching practices. Schmidt also served two years as a research assistant to Dr. Kathleen Tacelosky, professor of Spanish, making bibliographies, editing, proofreading, and preparing sources for publication for her transnational student research.

“Working on each of these projects and seeing how invested the professors are in student success had a big impact on me,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s important work, and I’m glad to have played a role in it.”

In addition to his work on campus, Schmidt gained valuable experience as a presenter with three academic talks in London, the United States, and Peru focused on his independent research. Schmidt studied the representations of the Potato Famine in 20th-century Irish literature, specifically poetry by Seamus Heaney and the only novel of Seamus Deane—Reading in the Dark. He spent his final LVC semester studying in Valencia, Spain through the College’s study abroad partnership.

Following his graduation in May, he will apply to Ph.D. programs in English for Fall 2023 with the intention of furthering his undergraduate research and focusing on the intersection of nation, violence, language, and literature. 

“As a first-year, I didn’t expect to be as involved in academic extracurriculars,” Schmidt said. “Looking back, I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way through my time at LVC.”

 

-- Josh Hildebrand, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant