Entering her senior year of college, Yuriko Ikeda, Ph.D., assistant professor of Spanish, was set to graduate with a degree in economics. After being told she had to be a full-time student that year, her advisor suggested she fill out her schedule with Spanish classes because she was a native speaker. By the end of that year, she had fallen in love with the language and the literature and added Spanish as a second major.
Ikeda began teaching intermediate and upper-level Spanish classes at Marian University in 2016. She has enjoyed interacting with students in the classroom, collaborating with other staff and faculty members, and being a part of the close community on campus.
Q & A with Dr. Ikeda
Q: What genre of literature do you enjoy studying and reading the most?
A: My research focus is mainly on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature in both Spain and Latin America, but I really like to read everything. I consider myself more of a generalist. I also love 19th century literature from Spain. I love criminal literature from Mexico.
Q: Is there a memory in your first year here that sticks out to you?
A: One that sticks out to me is the Thanksgiving dinner where the faculty and staff volunteered to serve the students. It shows the sense of community that the university has where everybody talks to each other and helps each other. You are there to serve.
Q: What do you think is the hardest part about learning a new language for students?
A: The biggest challenge for students is overcoming the fear of failure. Learning a foreign language requires students to step out of their comfort zone, and making mistakes is part of the learning process. My job is to create a positive classroom dynamic that will help students feel comfortable as they learn Spanish.
My colleague and I, Julia Baumgardt, Ph.D., have a Spanish conversation table that meets once a week on Fridays at 11 a.m. We invite students to come and converse informally. We noticed a big difference in the students that attended those sessions last year. We saw big improvements in their confidence and abilities.
Q: If you were to master another language, what would it be?
A: I would like to continue my studies with Portuguese. I minored in Portuguese, and I can read it. I just need some more practice speaking it. Other than that, I would learn Japanese just because my dad is Japanese and my mom is Mexican. People always ask if I know Japanese, and I have to say no.