Kathryn Phipps is a Spanish and Portuguese (SPO) alumna who graduated from Princeton in 2019. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Hispanic and Portuguese studies at the University of Pennsylvania working on Medieval and Early Modern Iberian Studies.
In her responses below, Phipps shares some insights about her decision to concentrate in SPO and its impact on her professional life.
Why did you concentrate in Spanish/Portuguese?
I initially became a concentrator on the pre-med path because I wanted to keep up my Spanish. However, my coursework and later research drew me deep into the study of the 15th-17th centuries, and I was much happier there than in the pre-med world. I finally dropped pre-med when I realized grad school for Hispanic studies was an option, and I never looked back.
Do you have a favorite memory from your experience as a SPO concentrator?
During our Junior Seminar’s trip to Iberia, a few friends and I went on a tuk-tuk adventure in Lisbon around sunset. After bartering with the driver in Spanish, we jumped in and started gabbing along in English, and he interjected, “If I knew you spoke English I would have charged you more!” That kicked off our 25-minute ride to the highest point in Lisbon for an astonishing view of the city right at dusk, getting the driver’s life story as we slightly feared for our lives zipping up the mountain.
Has your SPO degree helped you in your professional life?
It’s hard to imagine a career more applicable to my SPO degree as I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Hispanic and Portuguese studies at the University of Pennsylvania working on Medieval and Early Modern Iberian Studies. I am working on a continuation of my senior thesis and frequently consult my SPO coursework as it directly pertains to my current studies. SPO prepared me well for graduate work in Hispanic studies, and the research opportunities allowed me to find an academic focus and develop a research project I’ll continue for years to come.
What advice do you have for undergraduates who are considering majoring in SPO?
SPO offers amazing flexibility and unparalleled support for your intellectual and professional interests. To the question, “What are you going to do with a Spanish degree?” You can respond, “Absolutely anything I want.”