Sam Fogarty came to Union intent on studying psychology for a future career in mental health. Then an introductory Spanish course spoke to him in ways he never imagined.
“I immediately liked how Profesora (Maritza) Osuna focused on how language is useful in work situations,” Sam said.
After becoming a Spanish and Hispanic studies major sophomore year, Sam enrolled in an advanced level translation course that further opened his eyes to how relevant the Spanish language is in today’s world.
Moving beyond traditional classroom translations of Spanish literature, he and his classmates worked at a domestic violence shelter in Schenectady, where they explored firsthand the complexities of bilingual communications by translating documents for the Spanish-speaking population.
“I loved doing something that actually mattered,” Sam said. “I was applying translation skills as I was learning them. In so doing, I came to understand an immense amount about culture, gender, history, language and communication.”
The summer after his junior year, Sam once again ventured beyond the classroom to enhance his learning.
Thanks to a community service internship awarded through Union’s Becker Career Center, he worked in Harlem, N.Y., at the non-profit Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth. The funding allowed him to live in New York City for the opportunity, which further connected him to social work and advocacy for marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ youth.
Sam is gratified by how his studies in and out of the classroom all came together.
“I gained insight into how identity often looks in Spanish and Hispanic populations in the U.S. That’s been tremendously inspiring,” he said.