Julia Tweadey was selected as the recipient of the 2023 Agnes Nicolini Vincenti Award for an Outstanding Thesis in RLL. This award is given to the RLL student with the most outstanding Honor’s Thesis in the past academic year. It was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of Natline V. Scott in 1989.
Each year we ask the recipient of the Vincenti Award to write a bit about themselves and the role that their language studies have played in their lives and how they hope to use that knowledge in the future.
"Although I planned on continuing my Spanish education beyond high school through a Spanish minor, I never anticipated that I would end up with a major in Spanish and an honors thesis. I entered my undergrad fairly certain that I wanted to go to medical school, but had no real direction outside of that and my plan to get a Spanish minor. This uncertainty led me to try out a variety of different classes to see what I wanted to study. I took the recommended premed classes along with a smattering of other classes to fill my distribution my freshman year.
One of the classes that I decided to take in my second semester was SPANISH 373 with my current advisor Professor Ryan Szpiech. It fit perfectly with my schedule and also was about a topic I had never even spent a single lesson learning about across my education thus far: medieval religious relations. I remember feeling really unsure about taking a class that was such a departure from my typical academic interests, but the risk more than paid off. I ended up enjoying the class so much that I took two more classes with Professor Szpiech throughout my time here. I found myself continually coming back to my Spanish classes as the one place where I knew I would enjoy my classes.
By the time I reached the end of my junior year, my minor in Spanish had become a major and I decided that I wanted to continue learning about Spanish history through a thesis. With the help of my advisor, Professor Szpiech, I found a way to tie my passion for Spanish to my goal of working in medicine. I decided on my topic of the disappearance of female hysteria from medieval Iberian medical discourse after a lot of time spent reading through medical literature.
Shortly after deciding on the broad strokes of what I hoped to study, I studied abroad in Spain, where I was able to see in person all of what I had learned throughout my studies up to that point. My experience abroad helped me to gain a level of comfort in the Spanish language, particularly in my speaking and writing, that I hadn't realized I was capable of having in my second language. I returned for my senior year feeling confident in my Spanish skills and ready to write and research for a thesis.
My senior year was mostly reserved for taking the remaining few classes I needed to graduate and my thesis. Writing it was one of the most challenging academic tasks I have ever done, but the months of poring over old medical manuscripts and popular literature from the fifteenth century proved fruitful. I will graduate having developed an ability to research and organize my thoughts in Spanish in a way that I never would have thought possible. Furthermore, I will graduate with a newfound passion for history and its intersection with medicine that will stick with me for the foreseeable future.
After I graduate, I plan on spending the next year applying to medical school (and hopefully getting into some). I hope to continue to integrate what I’ve learned not just about speaking and writing in Spanish, but also my passion for the humanities, into my career when practicing medicine."